Several polls taken in San Diego County over the past year consistently indicate that more than 90 percent of voters agree with the very basic statement that taxpayers get the best quality construction for the best price when contracts are bid under fair and open competition, without requirements that contractors must sign special agreements with labor unions. (The remaining ten percent that oppose this statement generally indicate themselves to be union members.)
This is a problem for unions, who become irate and frustrated when the public learns about proposals to impose project labor agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded construction.
Sunshine is a powerful disinfectant against the plague of PLAs.
Union officials are especially aghast at the proliferation of ballot initiatives in California as part of the ongoing 20 in 2010 campaign in California to ban PLAs this year at twenty local governments. Ballot initiatives subvert the typical union strategy of winning monopolies on public works construction by first supporting the election campaigns of candidates in places where few people normally pay attention to civic affairs.
This frustration was evident on February 23, when the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to ban PLAs in county-funded projects. One proposal from a county supervisor at this meeting was to allow voters to make the decision to ban PLAs through a ballot initiative. The San Diego Union-Tribune February 23 reported the union response:
Evan McLaughlin of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council said the debate was too complicated for voters.
“Voters don’t know anything about these issues,” he told the board. “You are the policymakers.”
Here is a test for you to try: next time you’re with a group of people who do not follow politics closely, fairly and honestly describe PLAs and the arguments for and against them. The typical response will be this: “I think unions are needed to protect workers, but this PLA thing that they’re doing is wrong.” Then they’ll say this: “Who’s voting for these PLAs? I guess all they care about is the unions instead of the people paying taxes. I want to vote them out of office.”
Union arrogance aside, the media has done an outstanding job of covering this win for taxpayers.
The local ABC affiliate did an outstanding story and shows that they really understand the issue. Video of their story is available here.
This is a huge win for the people of San Diego County. Kudos to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors!