Project Stabilization Agreement Statement

Last night the Santa Rosa Junior College Board of Trustees had an extremely important decision to make, should the JC approve the negotiated Project Stabilization Agreement for a single project on the campus, or reject it. Over the past several months I have heard from many people on both sides of this issue, I have read through countless emails, and numerous studies on the issue. I came to the conclusion that PSA's were beneficial to the college community and ultimately supported the adoption of the agreement last night. 

That being said, the process from when PSAs were first mentioned, to the culmination of the vote yesterday has been rough. The anti-labor groups in Sonoma County, more specifically, the North Coast Builders Exchange, have made it their sole mission for the past several months was to attack the Junior College trustees who have been supportive of the idea of a PSA, and in some cases have blackmailed the Junior College by suggesting businesses and individuals should boycott and not financially support the SRJC centennial celebration next year if the board approved a PSA. 

As your representative on the JC board, I am dedicated to hearing from you, and at the same time, maximizing transparency on all my decisions. Therefore, I felt it was best to send you my statement in its entirety from last night's meeting.

Thank you again for your continued support, and as always, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

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Happy Labor Day!

jb-on_campus_unedited.jpgOn this Labor Day I want to begin by thanking all the hard-working families of Sonoma County. Your dedication not only to improving the lives of your families but also to strengthening our community is the backbone of what makes living in Sonoma County so rewarding.

As some of you may know, I was born in Sonoma County and grew up in Sebastopol, my family's home for six generations. I was raised by a single mom who worked at the Barlow Apple Cannery and was a member of the Teamsters Union. I know firsthand how hard it is to raise a family here. We experienced many hardships, and the struggle to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table was a very real part of my growing up. It is one of the core reasons why education became such a critical issue for me and why I see our community college as a place to provide real career advancement for Sonoma County’s working families, just as it helped my family.

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Project Labor Agreement and Their Benefits

jordan_labor.jpgAs you may recall, at its June meeting, the SRJC board of trustees authorized Dr. Frank Chong, the JC president, to open negotiations with a view to using a project labor agreement (PLA) for one or more of these projects. The next step will be for the board to vote, in about two weeks, on an actual PLA that the JC has negotiated.
 
As you may also recall, the vote to authorize PLA negotiations passed by a 4-3 majority. Anti-labor groups in Sonoma County are claiming that construction projects done through the PLA process will wind up costing more than they might otherwise have done. From the considerable research I have done on the matter, I am firmly convinced that this is not the case.

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Project Labor Agreement Vote

bertolini_burgess.jpgThe big news this month is the board’s decision, taken at its June 13 meeting, to experiment with project labor agreements (PLAs, sometimes also called project stabilization agreements or PSAs) in connection with pending renovation and construction projects over the next 10 years on a number of aging JC buildings. In a 4-3 vote, in which I joined with the majority, the board authorized Dr. Frank Chong, SRJC president, to open negotiations with construction unions on using a PLA for one or more of these projects.

While opponents have criticized PLAs as “a solution in search of a problem,” proponents have pointed out that PLAs offer the JC the benefit of being able to negotiate terms and agreements on matters such as local hiring, apprentices, cost overruns, increased safety, strikes and sustainability even before construction work begins.

Before the board voted on what had proved to be a highly contentious issue, we had a lengthy, lively debate. When I spoke, I noted the support PLAs have received from a number of constituents – thank you all for your input in response to the PLA survey I included in my March newsletter – as well as from several elected officials.

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SRJC's 98th Commencement

commencement_bush.jpgAnother recent newsworthy event was our graduation ceremony, which took place on Saturday, May 27, at the Santa Rosa campus. In front of a commencement audience of over 3,000, the JC awarded approximately 2,000 associate degrees to nearly 1,600 graduates. The difference between the number of degrees conferred and individuals receiving them is explained by there being quite a number of students whose hard work earned them more than one degree. Congratulations to one and all!

In delivering the major commencement speech, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California community college system and a University of California regent, said that SRJC is one of the jewels in California’s community college system and, in fact, one of the nation’s finest community colleges.

In its reporting on the commencement, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat quoted the proud parent of one graduate as saying that SRJC is “the best school ever. It’s like an Ivy League school.” Whether or not that comparison is totally on target, I’m happy to point out that as an SRJC graduate myself (Class of 2009) I found the education I received there a terrific preparation for my studies at UC Berkeley – unquestionably a college of Ivy League caliber.

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Project Labor Agreements

burbank_students_walking.jpegAt the March meeting, the board heard pro and con testimony about a proposal to adopt project labor agreements (PLAs), also known as project stabilization agreements (PSAs), in connection with renovation projects, over the next 10 years, on a number of aging JC buildings. The work has been made possible by the 2014 voter approval of $410 million in bonds.
 
PLAs offer the JC the benefit of being able to negotiate terms and agreements on matters such as local hiring, apprentices, cost overruns, strikes and sustainability before construction work begins.
 
While federal- and state-funded construction projects generally require that work be done under union rules, this is not always the case at a local level. In 2014 Sonoma County required PLAs on projects of over $10 million. Construction unions are urging the county supervisors to lower the threshold to $2 million.
 
At the SRJC board meeting, the North Bay Labor Council’s president, Jack Buckhorn, spoke in favor of PLAs, claiming they save money because they limit labor disputes and cost overruns. In the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, he was quoted as saying, “PLAs are not only proven to finish projects on time and under budget, there is also a social justice component. They include local training programs that create middle-class jobs.” 

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Safe Haven Resolution

Mecha.jpgAt its February meeting, the board discussed President Trump’s immigration policies and adopted a Safe Haven resolution. As you know, the Trump administration plans to “build a wall” along the country’s southern border and has already begun an aggressive – some would say draconian – enforcement of the laws on undocumented immigrants. A number of such people – including at least several “dreamers” (i.e., people who were brought to the U.S. as children), about whose status Mr. Trump has been ambiguous – have already been deported. Among the deportees, according to reports I have seen, are also any number of people who have broken no laws beyond federal immigration statutes. As a result, several million undocumented immigrants are understandably concerned about whether it will be possible to remain here. Some families have already been tragically divided.
 
The board was unanimous in its adoption of the “safe haven” resolution, which calls on the SRJC administration to enact policies and procedures that, among other things, prohibit the campus police from questioning or arresting students on the basis of immigration status. The resolution also calls on the college administration to direct all employees not to release any student’s personal information, including immigration status, in the absence of a court order or subpoena.

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First Annual Fired Up For Jordan Burns - A Huge Success!

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Thank you to everyone for making this event such a huge success. We had well over 100 attendees throughout the day. A special thank you to our hosts Lawrence Jaffe, Ann Austin, and their two lovely daughters. Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped out; thank you to Laura & Craig Litwin for preparing some exceptional food. And a big thank you to the many supporters including labor, environmentalist, community leaders, agriculture, business community, neighbors, friends, and family. THANK YOU!

Sincerely,
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Jordan Burns
Sonoma County Junior College District Trustee
Representative Area 7 - West County
P.O. Box 1030 | Sebastopol, CA 95473
P. 707.861.1124 | F. 707.823.6170

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I am Honored to Serve

"I am deeply honored and humbled that you chose me to serve as your next representative on the Junior College Board."

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Thank you for all of your help and support during my campaign. Yesterday was an amazing day...I was sworn in as your Area 7 (West County) representative on the Junior College Board. We have much to be proud of and to celebrate in this hard-earned victory. We now have a great opportunity to advance policies that are good for the planet, the students and faculty, and the bottom line. 

Even though I was only sworn in yesterday, I have been tirelessly working since day one of this campaign. Meeting with dozens of community leaders, elected officials, and of course SRJC students, faculty, staff, and administrators. 

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Thank you - We Did It!

I am absolutely delighted to inform you that thanks to you, we have won a resounding victory. I will be sworn in on December 9 as your next Area 7 Sonoma County Junior College District Trustee.

election_results.jpgWe hit the ground running back in February and never slowed down since then. I am extraordinarily grateful to my entire campaign team for all the dedication and time they put in. We were out making calls and getting folks to the polls right until they closed on Election Day. Together, we were able to knock on over 5,000 doors, make over 3,000 phone calls, and host several community coffees and meet-and-greets.

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