The repercussions of the November 2008 elections hit the San Diego construction industry hard on May 26, when the Board of Education for the San Diego Unified School District voted 3-2 to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions for much of the school construction funded by the $2.4 billion Proposition S. Contractors will have to sign the union agreement for all projects worth $1 million or more.
Despite a massive four-month public relations campaign by San Diego construction trade associations (including the ABC San Diego Chapter) against the PLA, the three union-backed school board members who voted to negotiate the PLA at their first meeting in January never budged in their support for a union monopoly on school construction.
Fair and open bid competition lost in this school district on Election Day on November 4, 2008. What happened on that day? Union organizer Richard Barrera won election unopposed. Democrat activist Shelia Jackson won election with 61% of the vote. And liberal psychologist John Lee Evans beat incumbent Republican Mitz Lee with 55% of the vote. A three-vote majority to impose a union PLA was in place, and they moved quickly to fulfill the demands of union officials who supported their campaigns.
Now supporters of fair and open competition will consider lawsuits or voter recalls or other tactics to try to restore fiscal responsibility and worker freedom for construction in this school district. Voters never would have approved Proposition S if they knew contractors would be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement for construction funded by taxpayer money. The public is not supportive of PLAs in San Diego, and the three board members who voted for this PLA need to be accountable for their votes.