Friday, July 29, 2011

Honolulu Rail in Illegal Pact with Local Unions

UCLA Urban Planning Professor Brian Taylor sent me this brief but informative article about California's proposed High Speed Rail: High Speed Rail and Social Equity.

It contains a lot of interesting points and many of them such as construction cost, jobs, "green" transportation and equity apply to Honolulu's proposed heavy rail. However, one passage caught my attention:

"Since the federal regulations currently applicable to transportation infrastructure construction prohibit local hiring preferences, it is unlikely that there will be many jobs for low income people and people of color." No jobs for locals and Hawaiians?

True! The Code of Federal Regulations 23 CFR. §635.117 part (b) reads as follows: “No procedures or requirement shall be imposed by any State which will operate to discriminate against the employment of labor from any other State, possession or territory of the United States, in the construction of a Federal-aid project.” The rail project is clearly a Federal-aid project.

Contrast the facts above this fact from the recent past: Labor Unions Sign Rail Agreement with Honolulu City Officials. The goals of the RTSA include utilizing local labor for high quality work, on time and on budget. The mayor also stated that the agreement will avoid slowdowns and work stoppages.

This “partnership is a working relationship,” said Mayor Hanneman beside labor union leaders, in a conference room packed with reporters and laborers alike. In attendance were signatories to the agreement including: Ronald Taketa of the Hawaii Carpenters Local 745, Joe O’Donnell of the International Brotherhood of Ironworkers Local 625, Peter Iriarte of the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craft Workers Local 1, Vaughn Chong of the International Union of Painters & Allied Craft Workers Local 1791, Peter Gamban of the Operative Plasterers’ & Cement Masons’ International Association Local 630 , and William Mahoe of the Operating Engineers Local 3.

And all of it is illegal!