Long Beach Port Votes for P.L.A.

LONG BEACH—The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has voted unanimously to extend its port-wide Project Labor Agreement for 10 more years.

The PLA with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council brings union labor standards to about $409 million in projects, with more to be added.

“This will expand and enhance training opportunities for our San Pedro Bay workforce,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director at the Port of Long Beach.

The PLA targets local residents, veterans and transitional workers for hiring. 

In doing so, the PLA helps power the Port, the third-busiest container seaport in the United States, and an economic engine for trade, logistics and good, lifelong union careers.

“This is going to be a positive agreement for the next 10 years, that is going to allow us to construct and maintain the best port in the nation, and in the world, with the highest quality for job standards,” Chris Hannan, Council Executive Secretary, told the board at its Jan. 23 vote. 

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Workers will install new sewer and utility infrastructure at Pier E.
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On-dock rail at Pier E.
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On-dock rail saves energy on transport.
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The Port will be a staging area for massive wind turbines.
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Looking northwest from Pier J.
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Trades unions built the new POLB headquarters, opened in 2019.
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In 2016, the Port signed a 5-year blanket PLA with the Building Trades for all significant construction. Previously, the Port had project-specific agreements for many years. In 2021, the Port and Council inked a one-year extension, and set the course for the new 10-year term.

The 10-year contract is a vote of confidence in the Building Trades. “Our projects will move forward without any interruption whatsoever,” Cordero said.

That includes an expansion of Pier B, going from 82 acres to 171 with a budget of $191 million.

The Building Trades built the new Port headquarters on Ocean Blvd. in downtown Long Beach, which was the location of the board’s vote. Many union representatives attended.

Tommy Faavae, business development representative with IBEW Local 11, talked about the success of the early PLAs, leading to the long-term renewal. 

“I think this 10-year agreement in front of you is a great agreement,” Faavae said. “We look forward to many great projects down the pipeline.” 

Tyler Byrd, business representative for Iron Workers Local 416, said many local residents who are union Iron Workers are benefiting from the PLA. “We get to help the upcoming construction workers of Long Beach to be able to live and work in their community as well.”

Commissioners praised the PLA. “We have great partners in labor,” said board President Sharon Weissman.

Commissioner Bonnie Lowenthal expressed her gratitude for the Building Trades unions, stating, “It’s clear that by having this Project Labor Agreement, we’ve ensured quality work for so many years on all these projects.”

Port staff, including Darrin Lambrigger, director of construction management, and Adriana Ramirez, manager of labor compliance, further explained the inner workings of this PLA.

It has resulted in 32 projects being awarded, with $507 million in paid wages. 

With the goal of hiring diverse workers, Ramirez said, the Port will continue to work with programs like Helmets to Hardhats for outreach to veterans, and local apprenticeship-readiness programs WINTER (Women in Non-Traditional Employment Roles) and at Long Beach City College.

Project Labor Agreements make these programs possible.

“LiUNA! Local 1309 is excited to continue our partnership with the Port of Long Beach and to work on projects that will benefit the entire port community,” said Nicholas Santos, business agent for Laborers Local 1309, based nearby in Lakewood, after the vote. 

Mario Cordero had the last word. At the annual State of the Port address, he applauded the PLA. 

“Over the years, we have been able to increase the use of Project Labor Agreements,” Cordero told hundreds in his audience. “These agreements, which help us to guarantee a well-trained, well-paid workforce, are available for all our projects. This week, the Harbor Commission approved the new port-wide 10-year Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council, covering the projects with an estimated construction value of nearly half a billion dollars.

“It has been an exciting year, and we have great plans this year to come.” 

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