The Newport Mesa Tea Party announced Tuesday that it objects to the possibility of an overarching agreement between the Coast Community College District and local unions that could govern hiring on almost $700 million in construction work.
The district's board of trustees on Wednesday will consider drafting a project labor agreement, or PLA, that would pre-negotiate hiring terms with local unions for $698 of infrastructure bonds voters approved under Measure M.
"The Tea Party stands for free markets," Tom Pollitt, Newport Mesa Tea Party Patriots founder, said in a prepared statement. "Limiting competition to favored groups is the rankest form of favoritism."
For months the idea to draft an agreement has split trustees and sparked hours of public testimony.
A board-appointed task force has recommended against it, but two out of the five board have voiced their support.
Local union members say it would insure good hiring practices and keep jobs local, but the idea has drawn ire from groups like the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn. and a local chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors
They say it is a union giveaway that increases construction costs.
"A PLA [is] the poster child of government waste," Pollitt said, echoing that sentiment. "Taxpayers can ill afford wasting $100 million for political cronyism."
Pollitt said his group has only had a few members but that some have attended previous board meetings on the topic and hope to voice their objection at Wednesday's meeting too.
"We've been watching this and waiting for this," he said.