Press Releases

Good for Unions - Good for the Community

After a protracted legal battle, the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and its fellow plaintiffs were successful in a lawsuit against the developer of the Marina Heights project.  The lower court ruled in our favor but the defendents appealed the judgment.  On January 11, 2011, the appellete court agreed with the lower court and affirmed the lower court's decision. 

A copy of the decision can be found pdfHERE.

Following is an article which appeared in the January 12th edition of The Monterey Herald:

Panel backs wage scale for Fort Ord redevelopment projects

Marina Heights developer loses appeal

By LARRY PARSONS Herald Staff Writer

Posted: 01/12/2011 01:54:23 AM PST | Updated: 01/12/2011 08:45:55 AM PST

A long dispute over construction pay for work on Fort Ord redevelopment projects may finally have been put to rest by a new state appellate decision.

A three-judge panel of the 6th District Court of Appeal said developers of a 250-acre, 1,050-home Marina Heights subdivision in Marina face undisputed evidence that prevailing wages must be paid on their project.

Cypress Marina Heights LP, the developer of the economy-stalled subdivision, had appealed a 2008 summary judgment granted by now-retired Monterey County Superior Court Judge Robert O'Farrell in favor of prevailing wages.

The Monterey/Santa Cruz County Building and Trades Council filed suit in 2006, along with a contractors' group and two Marina residents, about whether developers had to pay prevailing wages on Fort Ord projects.

"We hope it puts (the issue) to rest, but we will be forever vigilant," Ron Chesshire, president of the building trades council, said Tuesday of this week's court decision.

"It's been a long battle, but we're glad we were there to defend working people of the community," he said.

Prevailing wages, set annually by the U.S. Department of Labor in different areas, often mirror union construction wage scales. They are typically required under federal and state laws on most public works projects and other projects subsidized by public dollars.

The suit originally was filed against developers of The Dunes on Monterey Bay, a large residential-commercial project in Marina, and the city of Marina's redevelopment agency. An amended complaint in July 2007 added Marina Heights and the massive East Garrison project in county Fort Ord territory as defendants.

Directors of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority in early 2007, under pressure from labor groups, strengthened its prevailing wage policy to require the wage rate on all "first generation construction" on land covered by the Fort Ord reuse plan. The cities of Marina, Seaside and Del Rey Oaks and the county have Fort Ord redevelopment areas.

The Dunes project developers and city of Marina settled in October 2008, with Dunes developers and successors in the project agreeing to pay prevailing wages.

The plaintiffs contended that virtually all the paperwork on the Marina Heights project — from the reuse agency's 1997 master resolution to language on property deeds — spoke to the prevailing wage requirement.

Cypress Marina Heights contended prevailing wages were only required on Fort Ord public works projects, not home construction, and other agreements superseded the requirement.

Chuck Lande, Marina Heights developer, said he was disappointed by the ruling but didn't anticipate an appeal.

"It benefits a very, very few (construction) people and harms a great number of people," Lande said.

Marina Heights will still be built, he said.

"We have hit other hurdles, and we have a commitment to bring a good project to the community," Lande said.

Though the housing market slump has stalled development in Marina Heights, East Garrison and other big Fort Ord projects, Chesshire said several smaller projects are being built.