San Diego Unified PLA Debacle: First Project Bid With A PLA Fails On All Counts

0 February 5, 2010  School Construction, State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

Remember the San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) corrupt move to require project labor agreements (PLAs) on all construction projects funded by the voter-approved $2.1 billion proposition S?  Big Labor said the PLAs would help control costs and guarantee a local workforce. 

As predicted, the PLA has already failed to deliver on Big Labor’s promises:


Big Labor Promises of “On Budget” and of “Local Jobs” Ring Hollow as Bid is Awarded on First Prop. S Project with PLA
San Diego – The bid results are now in and they are devastating for Big Labor special interests and their SDUSD Board Member allies Richard Barerra, Shelia Jackson, and John Lee Evans. 

Yesterday at 2pm the bid results were opened for SDUSD’s Hoover High School New Woodshop Building. This is the first Proposition S project bid with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) covering it. CFEC and others have warned for more than a year the results of a PLA would be disastrous in a city where 90% of the construction workforce is union-free but the three union controlled school board members would have none of it and shoved a PLA through with little study and no understanding of what it would mean to taxpayer dollars.  Now we know.

Total Bidders:

In this economy similar size projects, $2.8 million, have at least 15 bidders on them. For instance, the Auto Tech Careers Center Project at Miramar College for the San Diego Community College District had 17 bidders on it less than one month ago.  But San Diego Unified’s Hoover High School New Workshop Building had only FIVE BIDDERS!


In this economy it is unheard of to see a job not come in UNDER budget.  That same project, the Auto Tech Careers Center for San Diego Community College District which was estimated at $2.8 million came in at $2,195,000. SDUSD’s Hoover High School New Workshop Building’s estimate was $2.5-$3.5 million; however, the low bid was $4 million. THAT IS 35% OVER THE ESTIMATE! This is exactly what we warned the district the cost increases would be.

Local Work:

Perhaps worst of all for PLA proponents was the complete and total undermining of their chief claim for why a PLA was so needed: “Local Jobs”.  The winning bidder for this job is USS Cal Builders, a Los Angeles based firm! 

“This is a complete and total repudiation of these three board members and their special interest allies in Big Labor” said CFEC’s Eric Christen. “In these tough times where taxpayers are demanding the best product at the best price SDUSD has instead given special interests a monopoly agreement that will result in children and taxpayers getting three schools built when they could have had four.  These three board members at their next board meeting need to take care of two orders of business before they do anything else: First they need to repeal the PLA and then they need to resign.”

San Diego taxpayers supported the $2.1 billion Proposition S school construction bond in November of 2008.  At their first school board meeting in January of 2009, three board members heavily supported by unions  (Jackson, Barerra, and Evans) had as their first order of business, a PLA for all Prop S work.  The PLA mandates that all workers have to pay union dues and into union benefit programs and it excludes non-union apprentices.  CFEC has also learned it is costing the district more than $600,000 per year just to administer.  The public outcry over this monopoly giveaway to Big Labor special interests was unanimous with the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Associated General Contractors, Western Electrical Contractors Association, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Minority Contractors, and countless other community groups opposing such discrimination and waste.  Two board members, Katherine Nakamura and John DeBeck also agreed it was unnecessary  Their prescient predictions were ignored.

Now, if only someone had told the SDUSD this would happen.  Oh wait, they did

This is just one more example of local officials putting their political friends’ interests ahead of the people they represent.

Save Prop S Logo - Special Interests Control San Diego Unified School District

Additional coverage of this debacle is available here.

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