The California legislature has approved and sent to Governor Jerry Brown three bills that construction union lobbyists are demanding in their quest to use the power of government to gain greater control over taxpayer-funded construction projects. These are Senate Bill 922, Assembly Bill 436, and Senate Bill 790.
Receiving the most attention is Senate Bill 922, a bill created on September 2 as a “gut and amend” bill and authored by the Assembly Speaker and Senate Pro Tem. This bill terminates local government policies that prohibit mandates for contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements. To compel California’s 120 charter cities (cities with full authority over their purely municipal affairs) to end their policies, the bill deprives these cities of state funding for projects if they maintain or enact policies that prohibit mandates for contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements.
Votes on this bill were strictly on party lines. Other than the few legislators who did not vote on SB 922 for unknown reasons, every Democrat in the legislature voted for SB 922 and every Republican voted against SB 922. No Democrat was willing to buck the political power of the unions and defy the caucus leaders in the Assembly and Senate, even if some recognized the inappropriate interference of the state government in the affairs of local governments. Realize that many Democratic state legislators were recently serving themselves in local government and complaining about state mandates and the state’s manipulation of local government policies.
Not surprisingly, numerous construction trade associations representing both union and Merit Shop contractors are asking Governor Jerry Brown to veto of SB 922, along with broader business organizations. But the brazen usurpation of local government authority by the state under SB 922 has also upset local government officials, even those who are neutral or even supportive of Project Labor Agreements.
“SB 922 is an unnecessary interference in local community decision making,” states a veto request from the California State Association of Counties. The League of California Cities also opposes SB 922: “Regardless of your position on PLAs, SB 922 is a bad bill and should be opposed. This is one more example of state legislative interference in what should be a local issue.” Numerous individual local elected officials have also sent veto requests to the governor.
Eight local governments have enacted policies to ban Project Labor Agreements, including three where voters solidly approved ballot measures to ensure Fair and Open Competition.
PROPOSITION G for CITY OF CHULA VISTA – JUNE 8, 2010
YES: 18783 55.75% (56%)
NO: 14906 44.25%
PROPOSITION K for CITY OF OCEANSIDE – JUNE 8, 2010
YES: 14951 53.79% (54%)
NO: 12846 46.21%
PROPOSITION A for SAN DIEGO COUNTY – NOVEMBER 2, 2010
YES: 614744 75.80% (76%)
NO: 196315 24.20%
As confirmed by these votes (as well as by polling), most California voters recognize that Project Labor Agreements are a costly scheme engineered by union lobbyists and politicians to give unions monopoly control over taxpayer-funded construction projects.
With ballot measures soon to qualify for the June 2012 ballot to establish Fair and Open Competition policies in the City of San Diego (Ban on labor-friendly contracts targeted for ballot – San Diego Union-Tribune – September 7, 2011), in the City of Sacramento, and in the County of Sacramento, union lobbyists have turned to the California legislature to bail out their unpopular strategy of using government-mandated Project Labor Agreements to cut competition and gain market share.
Learn more about these bills here.
News Media Coverage of Senate Bill 922 Since Passage in the California Legislature:
1. Raft of labor-backed bills are a challenge for Jerry Brown– Sacramento Bee – September 12, 2011; in Fresno Bee – September 13, 2011
2. Bills that Need to be Vetoed – Modesto Bee (editorial) – September 12, 2011
3. EDITORIAL: Meet the boss – North County Times (editorial) – September 13, 2011
4. Not every bill warrants that signature – Merced Sun-Star (editorial) – September 13, 2011
5. Four bills need Gov. Brown’s veto– Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, other San Francisco Bay Area local newspapers (editorial) – September 13, 2011
6. Brown Ought to Use His Veto Pen Without Mercy – Sacramento Bee (editorial) – September 13, 2011
8. FORUM: Legislature cares little about local control – North County Times (powerful opinion piece by Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern about his personal experience at the state capitol opposing Senate Bill 922) – September 15, 2011
9. Late amends leave advocates punched in the gut – Capitol Weekly – September 15, 2011
10. Proposed legislation could cost cities millions – North County Times – September 11, 2011
11. California Legislators: Gut and Amend is Gutless and Abusive – California Political Review – September 14, 2011
12. Brown would be wise to veto many of the bills before him – Fresno Bee (editorial) – September 15, 201
13. 600 bills on Jerry’s desk – Sacramento Bee – September 17, 2011
14. Senseless Bills – Riverside Press-Enterprise (editorial) – September 17, 2011
15. Four Bills the Governor Should Veto – Woodland Daily Democrat – September 16, 2011
16. Four for Brown’s veto pen – Vallejo Times-Herald – September 18, 2011