Merit Shop Victory: Open Competition Saved on San Diego Airport Expansion
Today the Board of Directors of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority decided to move forward on a $500 million expansion of Terminal B and other work at San Diego International Airport without requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with construction unions.
At its previous meeting on May 20, the board heard a relatively neutral presentation on PLAs from Tony Wigglesworth, a Philadelphia-based labor relations consultant and executive for a labor-management cooperation committee. Several people spoke out against the PLA proposal at that meeting.
It apparently became obvious to the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council what ABC had independently concluded: there was not a majority of board members on the Airport Authority supportive of requiring contractors to sign a PLA. Therefore, even as top San Diego union officials spoke in support of PLAs at today’s meeting, they announced that they were not asking for a PLA on this project.
In addition to ABC, groups opposing the PLA at this meeting included Associated General Contractors (AGC) of San Diego, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC), and the Western Electrical Contractors Association – Independent Electrical Contractors (WECA-IEC). Several contractors and an apprentice spoke out against the PLA.
The board then discussed PLAs but did not vote for any action concerning them. The board chairman announced that there was no request for a PLA and the project would proceed without a PLA. Fair and open bid competition and freedom of choice in training programs were preserved for this major construction project.