IBEW 11 Makes Its Voice Heard as County Signs Historic Community Workforce Agreement
By Robert Fulton
IBEW 11 and its local Building Trades brothers and sisters have entered into a historic Community Workforce Agreement (CWA) with the County of Los Angeles.
The new, five-year CWA covers any Los Angeles County project budgeted at $5 million or more, and it is estimated to cover about $1 billion worth of construction work a year. Before implementing this CWA, the County and the Trades negotiated over each project on a project-by-project basis.
This brand-new L.A. County CWA, also known as a project labor agreement (PLA), took approximately six years to negotiate and was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on February 28. The Trades have long had a similar CWA with the City of Los Angeles.
“Long overdue,” said L.A. Country Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Examples of the type of work the County CWA covers include hospitals, parks, and water treatment facilities. The $200-million Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in Willowbrook that opened in 2015 was one of the successful PLAs negotiated between the Trades and the county and would have fallen under the new CWA.
Diana Limon, IBEW 11’s Director of Women Recruitment & Support, was the only woman representing the building trades who spoke before the Board of Supervisors before they cast their votes in support of the PLA. Speaking before the Board of Supervisors (whose members are all women), Limon highlighted the unprecedented work opportunities the new CWA will create for union members.
“This has been in the works for quite a while,” said Limon. “It’s a big deal because it’s going to create thousands of opportunities for workers to be able to be on these projects.”
IBEW 11 Senior Assistant Business Manager Robert Corona said Limon’s voice and presence sent a powerful message that was not lost on Board members.
“They were very aware that IBEW Local 11 was one of the few labor unions that actually had a woman there to represent and speak in favor of this,” Corona said.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger emphasized how the CWA’s passage has the potential to open new doors for women in the electrical and construction trades.
“My hope is through the agreement an expansion of opportunities will be seen, and we will have an increasing percentage of women that are afforded the opportunity to thrive in the trades if they choose to pursue that as their career path,” Barger said.
Corona credited IBEW 11 leadership, staff, and members for getting the CWA passed. He emphasized the importance of supporting labor-friendly candidates for public office as a key factor in its passage.
“What is important to note about this community workforce agreement is that it puts the community to work,” Corona said. “It’ll be the community that actually lives there working on these projects. That means more work for our members.”
Additional highlights of this historic CWA include local hire provisions that require contractors to employ a certain percentage of the workforce on any given project from the zip code in which the project is being built.
The agreement also includes prevailing wages and apprenticeship requirements.
Other key provisions include boosting women, minorities, veterans, the formerly incarcerated and others not always represented on the jobsite.
“This new countywide Community Workforce Agreement will ensure that the men and women working on our county projects are receiving the wages and benefits they deserve,” said Janice Hahn, Chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and a co-author of the CWA along with Supervisor Barger.
The recent agreement with the County does not affect IBEW 11 members who are county employees.