AALRR Scores Major Win for AGC-San Diego in Arbitration Against the Operating Engineers
The Ruling Settles a Long-Standing Debate About When a Freeway Contractor Can Skip Sunday Double Time Due to Governmental Requirements
The Firm is proud to announce a complete win on behalf of our client the Associated General Contractors of San Diego (AGC-SD) in a high-stakes labor dispute with the Operating Engineers Local 12. The favorable arbitration decision brings needed clarity to the circumstances when a freeway contractor can utilize a Sunday to Thursday night shift without incurring massive liability for Sunday double time.
The dispute arose from the construction of the Mid-Coast Trolley Expansion, which was a multi-billion dollar project to construct a light rail corridor from downtown San Diego to the UCSD community. The general contractor was a joint venture consisting of Flatiron Construction, Skanska USA, and Herzog Construction Company. The joint venture was represented in labor relations by our client AGC-SD, and utilized Local 12 Operators on the project.
In a contractual arbitration, the Operating Engineers challenged the general contractor’s designation of a “special shift” to perform nighttime construction from Sunday to Thursday. A contractor’s ability to utilize a special shift — and thereby avoid Sunday double time liability — is subject to the terms of the master labor agreement. The Operating Engineers claimed the general contractor lacked “bona fide” governmental authority requiring the use of a special Sunday to Thursday night shift on the project. In arbitration, AGC- SD successfully argued that the use of a special shift on the project was required due to Caltrans’ lane closure charts prohibiting lane closures during all daytime hours and on Friday nights. While the Caltrans’ charts did not explicitly dictate that a contractor must perform work during nighttime hours, the charts functionally required that any work requiring a lane closure could only be performed at night. In that the majority of the project occurred in the Caltrans right of way, the lane closure chart effectively required the contractor to utilize a Sunday to Thursday special shift.
The arbitrator accepted AGC-SD’s arguments in their entirety. The arbitrator denied the Operating Engineers’ claim for Sunday double time, which would be required if the contractor’s special shift was deemed to be in violation of the master labor agreement.
The favorable ruling brings welcomed clarity to the circumstances where a signatory contractor can utilize a special shift on freeway work in California. This clarity will ensure that crucial infrastructure projects can be bid and built with greater cost certainty.
AGC-SD was represented at arbitration by Brent Garrett, a partner in the construction labor group at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.