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Posted by xaviervir on December 15, 2011

West County Times:

New San Pablo mayor celebrates labor and praises old mayor

By Tom Lochner
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 12/13/2011 04:26:01 PM PST
Updated: 12/14/2011 08:45:18 PM PST


Cecilia Valdez began her tour of duty as San Pablo’s new mayor by touting project labor agreements as a kind of win-win-win: a way to raise wages of low-wage workers while ensuring labor harmony and increasing quality and productivity.

The agreements set basic terms and conditions for all workers on a project before its start, including prevailing wages and benefits, and often contain local hiring as well as apprenticeship provisions and no-strike and no-lockout pacts.

Nonunion contractor groups and advocates say rules requiring project labor agreements add costs to projects, a notion unions dispute.

Valdez’s elevation to mayor was part of last week’s annual City Council reorganization. Arturo Cruz is the new vice mayor.

It is the first tour for each in their respective leadership posts since they were elected in 2008 with the support of labor unions and the Contra Costa County Democratic Party.

Several labor and party officials attended the ceremony.

Valdez was vice mayor this year.

Valdez praised outgoing Mayor Paul Morris for “the fantastic job he’s done,” thanked the city’s staff and senior administrative officials, and acknowledged several dignitaries in attendance, including representatives of Rep. George Miller and state Sen. Loni Hancock; former San Pablo Mayor Joe Gomes; West Contra Costa Unified School District trustee Antonio Medrano; West Contra Costa Business Development Center Executive Director Alex

Gomez; former Richmond City Council members John Marquez and Ludmyrna Lopez; and former Pinole Mayor Maria Alegria.About a half-mile from City Hall, at the San Pablo Lytton Casino, low-wage workers and their union remain locked in a bitter standoff with management over wages, benefits and labor practices. A city subcommittee is studying the situation, although the city has no legal power to intervene.

The casino contributes about $14 million annually to the city’s general fund under terms of a 2003 Municipal Services Agreement between the city and the casino’s owners, the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians.

Morris, in a statement titled “2011 Year of Accomplishments” posted on the city’s website, said the city eliminated a $3.2 million budget deficit in collaboration with its unions. He also noted the opening of several new businesses, including Las Montanas supermarket and several stores at the College Center shopping center, and ongoing construction of the Helms Community Center, the Rumrill Boulevard Bridge replacement and a Contra Costa County health clinic on part of the former Circle S mobile home park site.


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