There is a growing local movement in California to protect taxpayers and ensure the best quality construction at the best price by prohibiting project labor agreements (PLAs).
On Tuesday, February 9, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, representing the sixth most populous county in the country, voted 5-0 to authorize supervisor Bill Horn to draft a proposal that would evaluate two options that would protect taxpayers from PLAs. Option A is a ballot initiative that would prohibit PLAs on county funded projects for voters to decide on the June, 8 ballot. Option B is a county ordinance that would ban PLAs.
San Diego County joins Orange County (the fifth most populous county in the country), the three most populous cities in San Diego County, the City of Fresno, and the City of Roseville in either banning PLAs or moving toward banning PLAs. It is reported that a few other local governments in California may proceed toward banning PLAs in the next few weeks. Various grassroots organizations dedicated to fiscal responsibility are working to ban PLAs in as many as twenty California local governments of significant size in 2010.
See the press release below issued today by San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn.
Contact: John Culea – Media and Communications Director
619 531-4709 Cell: 619 548-1765 FAX: 619 685-2662
February 9, 2010: For Immediate Release
Ensuring Fair and Open Competition for County Contracts
(San Diego) The San Diego County Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a recommendation from Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn to draft an amendment to the San Diego County Charter to be placed on the June 8th, 2010 ballot. If approved by a majority of voters, the Charter Amendment will prevent any future efforts to require Project Labor Agreements in County contracts beyond what the State and Federal government mandate.
A Project Labor Agreement, commonly referred to as a “PLA”, is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement to use union labor on a project. When required, it eliminates the ability for non-union companies and workers to compete for and work on, government projects. When required by Federal, State, or local governments, PLAs discriminate against approximately 85% of construction workers and reduces competition to only those contractors who use union labor. Reducing competition for government contracts also has the effect of causing bids to come in higher, which drives up the cost to build government projects and squanders precious tax dollars. All qualified contractors and workers deserve the chance to compete for contracts and jobs that their own tax dollars pay for.
Supervisor Horn said, “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 15.6 percent of construction workers nationwide are unionized. When President Obama and the State legislate for union labor, they’re discriminating. They’re giving an unfair advantage to a minority of construction workers.” Supervisor Horn added, “The draft amendment to the San Diego County Charter would not prevent union shops from bidding. However, eliminating 85 percent of the competition for County contracts would be devastating to our local economy and taxpayers.”
In the last 12 months the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, and the County of Orange have all taken steps to reduce or eliminate requirements to use the PLA. County Counsel will return to the Board of Supervisors on February 23rd with a draft Charter Amendment. If approved, the draft amendment will then come back to the Board for final approval on March 2nd, and the measure will be placed on the June 8th ballot giving voters countywide the first chance to weigh in on the matter.
Also, check out the news coverage of the supervisors’ move in the North County Times (“County Moves to Restrict Union Labor Requirement“, Feb 8), the San Diego County News (“Ensuring Fair and Open Competition For County Contracts“, Feb 9) and SignonSanDiego.com (“County Considering Ban on Labor Deals, Public Works Projects Would not Require Hiring Through Union Halls“, Feb 9).