In an editorial today, the Wall Street Journal slammed union-favoring project labor agreements (PLAs). Just last week, voters in the San Diego area “voted to prohibit the city from bowing to union demands” and prohibited these discriminatory and costly agreements on municipal construction projects in Chula Vista and Oceanside, California.
The WSJ noted that, “From Boston’s Big Dig to the San Francisco airport, if it’s a project with egregious cost overruns, a project labor agreement is probably involved…Within a few weeks of taking office, Mr. Obama signed an executive order encouraging project labor agreements for federal construction projects larger than $25 million. The revolt in southern California suggests that voters are figuring out that such political favoritism costs them money.”
This piece is the third Wall Street Journal editorial from 2010 that trashes anti-competitive and costly project PLAs.
The San Diego chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors pushed the ballot proposals in both Chula Vista and Oceanside and hope to spread similar efforts across California. Other ABC chapters will advance this effort into other states such as Nevada in the near future.
Here is the full editorial:
This year’s growing revolt against government excess is resulting in all sorts of political surprises, and a pair of examples in southern California deserve more attention. The San Diego suburb of Chula Vista, where 61% of voters broke for Barack Obama in 2008, voted last week to prohibit the city from bowing to union demands. The city of Oceanside, also near San Diego and which also went for Mr. Obama in 2008, passed a similar measure with 54%.
By 56% to 43%, Chula Vista voted in favor of Proposition G, which bans project labor agreements. These rules let unions pre-emptively set the terms for municipal construction projects, such as requiring the contractors to consent to union representation, special benefits or pay collectively bargained wage rates. Such agreements increase taxpayer costs as competitive bidding between union and open shops is suppressed. From Boston’s Big Dig to the San Francisco airport, if it’s a project with egregious cost overruns, a project labor agreement is probably involved
Voters knew firsthand how costly and destructive this favoritism could be. In 2006, the developer Gaylord Entertainment announced plans to build a hotel and convention center in Chula Vista, only to cancel the project after two years in part because of union intransigence. With unemployment somewhere in the double-digits and cities statewide worried about bankruptcy, project labor agreements were an indulgence Chula Vista could no longer afford.
The Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, a trade group that promoted the proposition, hopes it will be a model for other cities and states. It has collected enough signatures to put a similar measure on the ballot in San Diego, eventually expanding to 20 other California cities and then on to states like Nevada.
Within a few weeks of taking office, Mr. Obama signed an executive order encouraging project labor agreements for federal construction projects larger than $25 million. The revolt in southern California suggests that voters are figuring out that such political favoritism costs them money.
Here at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com, we think the Journal’s editorial board is absolutely right. Taxpayers are sick of the back room deals that have become a frequent occurrence on public construction in California over the last 15 years.
We are looking forward to taxpayers getting more and more opportunities to say NO to wasteful and discriminatory PLAs.