As of September 28, Governor Jerry Brown has not publicly announced his decision on Senate Bill 922, a hastily gutted and amended union-backed bill that deprives California charter cities of state funding for construction projects if they have Fair and Open Competition policies that prohibit city mandates for contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions.
But at an Escondido City Council meeting on September 28, the bill was already state law, as far as union officials and their allies were concerned.
Escondido is a city of 144,000 in San Diego County, about 20 miles southeast of the coastal city of Oceanside. City council members had circulated a draft of Oceanside’s city charter (approved by voters in June 2010) as a possible model for Escondido’s charter. It contains a Fair and Open Competition provision similar to the ordinance enacted in the City of Fresno.
At this September 28 workshop, the Escondido City Council scheduled three formal presentations about the proposed charter. Representatives of the San Diego-Imperial County Building and Construction Trades Council were given ten minutes for a presentation in support of government-mandated Project Labor Agreements.
Union representatives declared that if Escondido voters approve a charter with a Fair and Open Competition provision, voters will “jeopardize millions of dollars in funding under Senate Bill 922” and “jeopardize money coming down from Sacramento.” For a while, the unions were able to manipulate city council members and city staff into discussing the charter under the presumption that Senate Bill 922 was already the law of the land. It is not.
If signed into law, Senate Bill 922 will be the unions’ primary tool to discourage California local governments from adopting their own Fair and Open Competition public contracting policies that prohibit government mandates for contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements. Union lobbyists can resume their demands for monopoly control of taxpayer-funded construction, and lawyers can resume their “greenmail” of blocking projects with environmental objections until getting a Project Labor Agreement. The power of the state to collect and distribute taxpayer money will be used to punish voters who enact policies that discourage those practices.
As shown by various local ballot initiatives throughout the state, voters clearly oppose Project Labor Agreements. Ordinary citizens want the best quality construction at the best price when their money is spent.
In response, union lobbyists turned to the politicians in the state legislature to bail them out by passing a bill stopping local voters (and their elected officials) from adopting Fair and Open Competition policies. Will Governor Brown use the state government to suppress local control? Or will he veto Senate Bill 922?
News Media Coverage
Charter city forum features name-calling, emotional outbursts – North County Times – September 29, 2011