November 14, 2012
Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
(619) 997-2495 or Email Gayle
ABCSD demands release of secret labor union deal on Convention Center project to the public
(San Diego) – Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego (ABCSD), the organization representing merit shop construction and construction-related firms in San Diego, today called on the City of San Diego to release details of the labor agreement agreed to last week giving unions control of the work on the Convention Center expansion project.
Prime contractors Clark Construction Group and Hunt Construction Group (Clark/Hunt) announced the signing of a Project Labor Agreement directly with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO. This agreement comes despite the overwhelming passage by voters of Proposition A, the Fair and Open Competition Initiative, which prohibits the city from requiring Project Labor Agreements on City of San Diego projects.
ABCSD leaders say while a Project Labor Agreement reached privately between labor and contractors is legal under Prop A, they want the agreement made public to ensure the City of San Diego played no role whatsoever in brokering or arranging the PLA, which is not permitted under the Fair and Open Competition measure passed last June.
“We want to see the details of this deal and determine whether the City of San Diego had any role whether official or unofficial in bringing it about,” Scott Crosby, President and CEO of ABC San Diego. “Any such involvement would be in violation of the Fair and Open Competition law now in place.”
“If it’s such a good deal, why isn’t it being made public?” Crosby asked. “Showing transparency in good faith goes a long way in answering troubling questions. Prop A requires the City to put all its contracts online, so why not do it here as well?” said Crosby.
“Whether or not this is legal under Prop A, the fact remains that thousands of hard-working, professional merit shop craftspeople may now be shut out from any opportunity to compete fairly for this work despite their skills and ability to do the job well and efficiently on behalf of the taxpayers. Several of our members have already said publicly they will not pursue any bids on the convention center expansion because of this secret deal,” said Crosby.
Project Labor Agreements also mean that merit shop apprentices will not have the opportunity to participate since PLAs typically exclude apprentices who do not belong to a labor union.
“Although we have not seen this particular PLA, these types of labor deals usually discriminate against non-union apprentices. Under this type of deal, an A+ non-union student can be denied work - and the job awarded to a C- union student. Qualified local apprentices from non-union programs are excluded from the work. It is inherently unfair," said Sherry Yarbrough, Executive Director of the ABC San Diego Apprenticeship Training Trust.
In return for signing the agreement, organized labor is now dropping its environmental objections to the project and is now fully supportive of the expansion. “Why did the unions’ opposition based on its environmental concerns suddenly disappear?” asked Crosby. “They were strongly opposed to the point of filing lawsuits to stop the project, but now they’re willing to build it. What environmental concerns were mitigated by this agreement? This is another question we would like answered.”
Prop A, the Fair and Open Competition ordinance, was approved by 58 percent of city voters in June 2012. That ordinance prohibits the city from requiring companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.
The City of San Diego is the largest city in the United States to pass such a fair and open competition measure.
For more information about the ABC San Diego, visit ABC's website, or call 858-513-4700.
About ABC San Diego
Associated Builders and Contractors is a national association representing more than 23,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms in 75 chapters across the United States. The San Diego Chapter of ABC represents construction and construction-related firms throughout San Diego County. To find out more about ABCSD, visit www.abcsd.org.