San Diego’s Proposition A: How to Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill

by on May 4, 2012 · 6 comments

in Economy, Election, Labor, San Diego

Proposition A would prohibit the City of San Diego from entering into Project Labor Agreements for City construction projects and require the public posting the text of all construction project contracts over $25,000.  Proponents put the measure on the June ballot by gathering signatures in 2011.

Perhaps you had the pleasure of meeting some of their paid employees, er, um, sub-contractors as you made your way into or out of your favorite grocery store. Don’t you remember signing that petition that would force the Federal government to lower gas prices?  There were numerous reports of malfeasance by these signature gatherers, but not enough evidence to merit prosecution or disqualification from the ballot.

The measure is entitled: The Fair and Open Construction Ordinance. You have to give these folks who construct these ballot initiatives credit. They’d find a way to title mandatory ice sales to Eskimos that would sound so sweet that they’d probably vote for it. But the shell game just starts with the law’s title.

Superficially what we are looking at here is a group of building contractors who are seeking to ban construction agreements that designate trade unions as the hiring authority.

Yes, I know, that’s too short a description. If you’d like to know more follow this link for starters. Nothing here is as simple as it seems. What’s wrong with saving the taxpayers money? Aren’t the unions just trying to keep their coffers full by collecting dues from the large number of workers that typically are involved in municipal construction contracts? And when did you stop beating your wife? (Sorry, just wanted to see if you were paying attention.)

First of all, the problem isn’t a problem. (Rinse, Repeat) The City of San Diego does not require nor has it ever required Project Labor Agreements (PLA) for its construction projects. Nobody has ever proposed using a PLA for a San Diego project. So we’re being asked to pass a law that prohibits something that doesn’t exist. Doesn’t that seem a little strange?

Enter the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a trade association going back to the McCarthy era that’s been known to have a dislike for unions. They’ve joined with other groups to set up the Free Enterprise Alliance, which describes President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms — which include Social Security and minimum wage laws — as the beginning of the government’s assault on “freedom.” And they have a national agenda which includes eliminating Federal laws requiring that the prevailing wage been paid on federal construction projects, eliminating workplace rules instituted by the feds, repealing the Lilly Ledbetter Act (which provides women with more legal channels through which to pursue equal pay for equal work.) and—tada!—getting rid of Project Labor Agreements.

With tons of right-wing money, the ABC association has mounted a nationwide legislative blitz. Like Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio—who’s a major supporter locally—they’d like to see San Diego turned into the Wisconsin of the west.  Despite its high profile, the ABC group actually represents about 3% of the firms active in the construction business.

So this “movement” of poor, persecuted, businessmen is actually a front for right wing monies and agendas. One local contractor, who asked me after the fact to leave his name out—‘they’re really quite nasty people’–, described the ABC guys as being on the ‘cutting edge’ of the seamy side of the construction industry. So what we have here is a solid, 21st Century case of Astroturfing.

The point of Proposition A is that it serves as a platform to attack organized labor, not because of anything that’s happened in any workplace, but because it’s part of a grander scheme to attack the funding sources of the Democratic Party. So if you vote for proposition A, you’re actually voting a small piece of the plan for a one party, all-GOP all-the time-system. Newt Gingrich on all the channels! Won’t that be fun!

No taxpayer money will be saved by enacting Proposition A. In fact, the City Attorney’s analysis of the measure concludes that it’s other provision, the one requiring that all contracts be posted, will cost tax payers $450,000 annually, plus a $500,000 set up charge. The sad part of this is that Proposition A will probably pass because Unions have become the new Communists in this Neo-McCarthyist era.

But wait! There’s more! Not to be outdone in legislative slight-of-hand, the folks over at organized labor have come up with a “Sacramento Solution”  for Proposition A. Rather than take the time and effort to actually slug this issue out by educating the public, they’ve enabled legislation that will disqualify San Diego for State construction monies should Prop A pass. Whether or not this scheme will actually pass judicial review is another matter; the fact is Prop A is destined to be mired in court hearings and appeals for many years to come….which will cost the City still more money for lawyers.

As much as I’d like to congratulate them for their legislative slight of hand, organized labor is sticking their head in the sand on this one. These Astroturf people have a got a bag full of money. Proposition A is just an organizing tool for them. Regardless of the outcome here, there will be new “citizen” initiatives and continuing propaganda designed to undermine the fundamentals of the American dream as it has manifested itself over the last century. So consider Prop A as the ‘first step’ towards getting rid of Social Security, workplace safety and child labor laws, just for starters. For conscious voters, the choice is clear on Prop A—no way. Let’s hope that people will wake up and realize the broader implications of what’s going on here.

  Next Up: Proposition B

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

cahlo May 5, 2012 at 6:44 am

sounds good to me. unions just drive up the cost……… or, allow the union and non-union contractors to bid against each other (on the same contract).


doug porter May 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm

did you even bother to read the article? this is one of the “least-intelligent” comments I’ve ever seen in the OB Rag.


Tector Gorch May 5, 2012 at 8:18 am

The pendulum needs to start swinging back…too much power in is bad for California, no matter who holds it


dorndiego May 5, 2012 at 10:38 am

Bang! Doug Porter you slammed the ABC to the ground. Everyone should now be able to remember before voting that this is Prop A(BC) and Prop A(LEC), and mom and pop are going to suffer its consequences. You doing good.


doug porter May 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm

UPDATE: a study, by National Labor College political scientist Thomas Kriger, reveals some ABC members aren’t even contractors. They include a florist in Jacksonville, restaurants in Texas and Oklahoma, 44 Chevy dealerships, and 59 banks.


dorndiego May 8, 2012 at 8:16 am

Gasp! Are California MSM reporting this?


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