New agreement with union clears legal hurdle for Aggie Square
By Ben van der Meer | The Business Journals, Sacramento
A lingering legal impediment to development of the Aggie Square project in Sacramento has been removed, with the announcement of a deal with the labor union for future employees at the project.
Under the terms of the agreement between American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, the city and the University of California, UC will create a $5 million housing stabilization fund to assist service workers at the project who might otherwise be displaced.
“It has the potential to create a new coalition,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who said he played a mediator role in getting the agreement completed. Interests of labor, government and private business — Wexford Science & Technology LLC is the developer on behalf of UC — came together in the agreement, he said.
Also, the university committed to use UC employees for service and maintenance roles and for some tenants at the research and education center planned for south of the UC Davis Medical Center on Stockton Boulevard. By doing so, as many as 200 additional future workers at Aggie Square will be union-represented.
“Rarely do we think about the one-quarter of jobs at educational institutions that are folks like our members, who cook, who clean,” said Liz Perlman, AFSCME 3299’s executive director. “This agreement takes them into account.”
As a result of the agreement announced Monday, AFSCME is withdrawing a petition challenging the project’s environmental approvals. Both Perlman and UC Davis Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Dana Topousis said that will allow the project to break ground next year, as planned.
“We are pleased that an agreement was reached and look forward to groundbreaking in early 2022,” Topousis said in an email.
Other conditions of the agreement include transit passes for UC service workers at Aggie Square, wage and benefit equity between UC employees in service positions and those in similar roles at the project who aren’t represented by labor, and both air-quality monitoring stations and more fruit trees on the site.
The agreement builds on a previously approved community benefits agreement by the city that slated $50 million for affordable housing and committed UC to hiring 20% of future employees from Aggie Square’s neighboring ZIP codes. That agreement resolved another suit opposing the project, from a group called Sacramento Investment Without Displacement.
Steinberg said the new agreement both complements and adds on to that one, with $10 million now for neighborhood assistance, up from $5 million in the previous agreement. He said he believes components of the agreements could act as a template for other large-scale projects to balance out potential negative impacts on their neighbors. That could head off future litigation in such cases, he said.
Aggie Square, an estimated $1.1 billion project, would cover up to 33 acres northeast of where Stockton Boulevard meets Broadway.
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[Source]: The Business Journals