United Desert Communities of Imperial and Riverside Counties (UDC) was founded in the fall of 2019 with the initial goal to educate the public on the impact of the Imperial Irrigation District’s (IID’s) intended action to contract for a 10-year Project Labor Agreement (PLA). That concern was not based on pro-union or anti-union sentiment. It was based on a strong belief that the moneys paid to local companies’ existing employees working on IID projects under the terms of a PLA would leave the two communities with little to no chance of those employees having access to their benefits.
A major educational effort was launched in September 2020. While UDC believes the campaign was effective, the action of some members of the IID Board following the election, including those not re-elected, led the UDC to recognize that three members of the board had decided that they would vote for the PLA, regardless of facts placed before them. The facts had been provided to each one from the initial contemplation of the Board to adopt a long-term PLA. Multiple requests were made to the Board to have a workshop with local companies and to direct IID staff to conduct a Financial Impact Study of the planned action. Those requests were ignored.
UDC has now retained a respected and experienced local attorney that served notice to IID on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 of multiple Brown Act violations. Under the terms of the Brown Act, IID has 30 days from the date of the notice to cure the violations. During the December 15 public IID Board meeting, being aware of the forthcoming letter notification by UDC, IID General Counsel provided a primer course of action to remedy some of the noted violations identified by the UDC’s counsel.
Also identified in the UDC’s counsel notice to IID was an intent to file a Writ, ordering that approval of the PLA on December 1, 2020 by a 3/2 vote be overturned. IID has seven days to respond to the UDC’s notice. IID responded on December 22, 2020 with an advice that IID has no internal appeal or administrative remedies available. Without an internal IID process in place, UDC must seek a resolution through the judicial system.
UDC had hoped to preclude these actions which will simply burden the ratepayer with greater legal cost. We, however, are truly fighting for the working families of Imperial and Riverside County with actions and proof of the true cost of a PLA to both the local employees of working families and to the ratepayers.