Profiles in Courage

0 May 26, 2009  School Construction, State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

Another profile in courage is taking place in San Diego, where a proposed union-only project labor agreement on all projects funded by Proposition S, a $2.1 billion bond approved by the voters, was released at 5pm on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.  The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Board then scheduled a vote on adoption of the agreement for the next business day, Tuesday, May 26.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen government action encouraging union-only PLAs released on a Friday afternoon.  Perhaps Big Labor’s supporters think merit shop defenders take Fridays off.  However, it’s more likely that these officials understand the wasteful and discriminatory effects of PLAs and want as little publicity as possible for their handout.

Back to San Diego, here are the details on the proposed project stabilization agreement (PLA):

1.    All workers must pay dues to labor unions, regardless of whether they are union members or not.

2.    There is no requirement that local workers be used on Prop S projects; just a vague promise to “try” to hire workers from the community.  This was the primary rationale Big Labor gave for utilizing a union-only PLA in the first place.  Now it is now just a throwaway line in the final proposed PLA.  This tells us that even Big Labor knows it’s mathematically impossible for PLAs to promote local hiring.

3.    All workers must pay into underfunded union benefit plans, unless the non-union benefits are deemed “equal or better than” the union packages.  “Equal” is ultimately a subjective determination that will be made by the same people who are pushing the PLA now.  (Contractors that pay into underfunded union multi-employer pension plans set themselves up for major problems.  Stay tuned to TheTruthAboutPLAs for more information on this in the coming days)

4.    Only union apprentices may be used, despite the fact that hundreds of merit shop apprentices are being trained in state and federally approved programs in San Diego County.  These are people who won’t be able to work on construction projects that are paid for by their tax dollars in their own community.

5.    All contractors on projects funded by the SDUSD’s $2.1 billion dollar Proposition S must now work under an agreement they had no hand in drafting.  Only unions were allowed at the “negotiating” table for this project labor agreement.

These requirements will essentially prohibit 4 out of 5 San Diego County construction workers from competing on projects funded by Proposition S.

Obviously, our friends at the Save Prop S coalition are furious.  They have been waving the banner for open competition on these projects since the beginning, but there is an interesting point in the San Diego Union-Tribune article regarding other Prop S supporters:

The local chapter of Associated General Contractors, a construction trade group, supported Proposition S precisely because it believed there wouldn’t be any union preferences.  The trade group became the single biggest supporter to the Yes on S campaign with more than $180,000 in contributions.

This entire situation stinks of Big Labor handouts.  The citizens of the region deserved better considering over $2 billion and 10,000 jobs are at stake.  The San Diego Unified’s labor agreement meeting is on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 4100 Normal St., San Diego.  Please attend and say NO to wasteful and discriminatory union-only PLAs.

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