SACRAMENTO, CA - A new battle is brewing over construction of the downtown Sacramento arena, but this time it's over the arena labor agreement.
Mayor Kevin Johnson was joined by officials from the Sacramento Kings and Turner Construction, the firm signed on to lead construction of the arena, at Downtown Plaza Wednesday morning to announce that a labor agreement has been reached.
Under a Community Workforce and Training Agreement (CWTA), most of the workers hired for construction of the arena will be unionized. Construction is expected to generate 3,500 jobs and will last two years.
"We are a little torn because we do support the project," James Fitzgerald with the northern chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) said. "But we're disappointed that we're not invited to the table for contract negotiations and labor negotiations that could figure out terms for both sides."
ABC represents both union and non-union workers.
Fitzgerald said there are about 22,000 non-union workers in Northern California. That's roughly 84 percent of the workforce that can't work on the arena.
One anti-union protester was booed and pulled from the podium after the press conference ended. Non-union workers said they are being discriminated against.
But union workers disagree.
Under the deal, at least 60 percent of construction workers and 70 percent of apprentices working on the new arena have to be from the Sacramento area.
"This job is for everybody," Brian MacMillan with Carpenters Local 46 said. "Not just us. Basically, the apprenticeship program brings them in."
Union workers, though, said a majority of them are already past that stage in their careers and don't have that option.
There are "no strike" and "no lockout" provisions in place to prevent project delays and cost overruns.
Fitzgerald said using only union workers tacks on 20 percent to 30 percent more to the project. It's a big deal, especially when you're talking about city funds.
"[It's a] hard challenge to get that many local unionized workers to participate," Fitzgerald said. "They will be pulling from other areas - the Bay area, the Valley - to man the job."
Moving forward, ABC is hopeful the labor agreement stops at the arena. The group is asking city leaders to consider using both union and non-unionized workers when it comes to the future development of the area surrounding the downtown arena.