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Is the California High-Speed Rail Authority hiding a sweetheart UNION DEAL that increases costs and time to completion, undermining the quality of the project?

Kevin Dayton is the President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC (www.laborissuessolutions.com.) has exposed a dirty little secret …

California High-Speed Rail Authority Keeps Union Deal Out of Public Forums

Critics of the California High-Speed Rail often claim that deliberations and decisions of the Board of Directors and staff of the California High-Speed Rail Authority betray how “the entire process lacks public transparency and accountability.” It does seem true that some important decisions about the high-speed rail project occur without public notice.

Any interested member of the public diligently scrutinizing board agendas and attending meetings of the Board of Directors would never know that all construction companies working on the first segment of the high-speed rail line from Madera through Fresno will be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement (disguised under the term “Community Benefits Agreement”) with unions in the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

Nor would that person ever know that the California High-Speed Rail Authority needs to get permission from the Federal Railroad Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation to require its contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement for this federally-funded project.

(Shhh! These are secrets – don’t tell anyone who might use this information to undermine The Vision that is the California High-Speed Rail project.)

Why didn’t the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors include discussion or a vote on their Project Labor Agreement (excuse me, “Community Benefits Agreement”) on one of their meeting agendas?

Perhaps it was assumed that former California High-Speed Rail Authority board member Bob Balgenorth – at the time the head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – would have graciously told board members and staff if the Project Labor Agreement developed for his organization was worthy of board discussion and a vote before the public.

Read ore at: California High-Speed Rail Authority Keeps Union Deal Out of Public Forums | FlashReport

Bottom line …

Once again we find politicians and political appointees pandering to the unions which reward seniority over merit, the status quo over innovation, demand higher wages, benefits and pensions without a corresponding increase in productivity, and put forth work rules that demand multiple.

This project is a political-union boondoggle: a train which will never earn back its costs because the passenger traffic is not there. And, the politicians and their appointees – the consultants and others – simply grab their money; knowing that they will never be called to account for this travesty and will long be out of office when the pigeons come home to roost.

Perhaps it would cheaper and more cost effective to kill the entire project.

This reminds me of a story told by Rory Sutherland, a marketing guru who solves public policy issues using common sense and behavioral economics …

If you think of the billions, for example, spent on the high-speed rail, it’s based on an assumption of value that may actually have nothing to do with what human beings actually value about taking a journey, or what discourages human beings from taking a journey. It’s based on an assumption made by a load of engineers—who secretly, you know, actually like engineering solutions, we have to be candid here—if you’re an engineer, you’re more likely to come up with a solution that involves building enormous great train tracks than you are to come up with a solution that involves, say, some sort of neat psychological manipulation, or better customer service, or better ordering processes for train tickets, all that.

So you get to what I think is the dangerous point, which is that, in a way, the people, you know—we’ve developed a society where actually, people are allowed to define human problems without, actually, any reference to human beings at all. And that, that rubs me a little bit.

My contention is simply that what you’re doing by spending 24 billion is you’re reducing the duration of the only part of the journey which isn’t crap! Everything about a train journey is crap: getting to the station is crap, getting through the station is shit, buying your ticket is fucking awful; everything about it is awful except for when you actually sit on the train and look out the window. That bit’s okay. You know, if you put wi-fi and TV on, that’s pretty much what you’d be doing at home anyway. Okay? I don’t really have a problem with that bit at all. It doesn’t really matter if it’s three hours or one-and-a-half. Really. Who cares? <Source>

Sort of makes you think why we need a high-speed rail system that serves relatively few people in out of the way locations that nobody really wants to visit.

-- steve

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