Construction Trades Seize Greenmail Advantage

0 April 30, 2010  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

In an April 27 commentary titled, “Construction Trades Seize Greenmail Advantage with Vengeance,” published by The Daily Transcript in San Diego, former ABC San Diego chapter president George Hawkins reminds the public about one of Big Labor’s favorite tools for securing project labor agreements (PLAs) in California: greenmail.

Here are the highlights:

“Greenmail,” the idea of threatening to interfere with the permit process to get favorable contract terms, is an example of an advantage the construction trades have seized upon with a vengeance. In California, unions are capitalizing on the California Environmental Quality Act as they attempt to recover a construction market they’ve been losing for years.

Chula Vista officials, who have been working to turn the city’s bay front from an underutilized industrial area comprised of mud flats into an attractive destination for tourists and local residents, learned about greenmail the hard way. Gaylord Entertainment offered to build a billion dollar destination resort in the area. To do so it needed approvals from a myriad of agencies as well as financial support from the city.

Big labor wanted all the work for itself so it used greenmail. Union officials reportedly demanded a project stabilization agreement, or PSA, that favors union contractors. As part of the deal, they also may have demanded an additional dollar for every construction hour worked. To get the PSA and other considerations, the unions apparently threatened to contest every permit, environmental impact report and approval needed. Some call this extortion. Gaylord abandoned the project.

George’s point is well taken.  As a result of Big Labor’s attempt to pressure Gaylord into requiring a wasteful and discriminatory project stabilization agreement (essentially a PLA with a mustache on it), the Chula Vista bayfront remains undeveloped.  When Gaylord picked up stakes and left Chula Vista for the Phoenix area, thousands of new jobs when with them.

Chula Vista residents are going to get an opportunity to make sure this type of extortion never happens again on locally supported projects.  Ballot Initiative G, which is on the ballot June 8, would prohibit project labor agreements on all city and city funded projects.

For more information, visit Fairness for Chula Vista at

For more information on how Big Labor uses greenmail to hold up construction until they get their way, visit here and watch William La Jeunesse’s August 7, 2009 report on Happening Now on FOX News:

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