San Diego County voters are preparing to vote YES on Proposition A, which would amend the county charter to prohibit the county government from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions.
On October 9, the San Diego Union-Tribune noted that Proposition A “might be the easiest decision on the November 2 ballot.” Its explanation of support for Proposition A is concise and definitive:
By Union-Tribune Editorial Board
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Project labor agreements (PLAs) are a dismaying example of political power being used to influence government decisions in ways that benefit a special interest and harm the public interest. They typically require governments to shape contracting rules for big projects in ways that give decisive advantages to higher-cost unionized companies.
Union supporters insist the deals save money and lead to better workmanship. If this were true, then just about all elected officials would eagerly embrace PLAs. Instead, they are only imposed through power plays executed by union-beholden politicians.
For these reasons, Proposition A offers what might be the easiest decision on the Nov. 2 ballot. It would insert into the San Diego County Charter a ban on the county government using PLAs in contracting or for construction projects unless the agreements were required by state or federal law or their use was required as a condition of receipt of state or federal funds.
Critics say the county already has an ordinance banning PLAs and that this is overkill meant to tie the hands of future supervisors. We see it as locking in protections for fairness in contracting and blocking future power plays. County voters should say yes to Proposition A.
On September 27, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsement of Proposition A. Ruben Barrales, president and executive director of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said “Proposition A will protect the right of every qualified construction worker, whether union or non-union, to work on every County of San Diego construction project and increase job opportunities for all San Diego County residents.”
On September 24, the North County Times announced its endorsement of Proposition A. The editorial noted that “Proponents point to the additional $2 million costs that such an agreement added to recent construction contract for San Diego Unified School District – county taxpayers don’t need to wake up someday to find a similar bill levied against them.”
The North County Times also published an opinion piece on September 26 by the President and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association in support of Proposition A: “Voting ‘yes’ on A this November sends a message that politicians won’t be able to ignore: San Diego taxpayers demand more fiscal accountability when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars.”
10/14/10 UPDATE: There is so much buzz about Prop A, The NY Times covered it today (“Taking a Vote on Union Construction,” 10/14/10).