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Sabotaged: North Bay Business Journal On-Line Poll on Project Labor Agreement

On January 22, 2014, the North Bay Business Journal (covering Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties in California) began an on-line “Pulse Poll” asking readers to vote on whether they supported a proposed government mandate for construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on Sonoma County projects over $10 million. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors had scheduled a vote on the policy for its January 28 meeting.

The number of votes accelerated rapidly as word of the poll spread throughout the country. Tweets were sent from union organizations as far away as Philadelphia and New Hampshire urging people to vote.

By January 26, there were 10,068 Yes votes and 8,620 No votes, with a small number of people voting “I Don’t Know.”

Over the weekend, the number of Yes votes surged. Then on January 27 the North Bay Business Journal suspended the poll and posted this message:

To our readers,

Our online reader poll on project labor agreements, an issue that is now before the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, drew an approximately 26,000 votes since launched Wednesday, Jan. 22. Thank you to all of you who participated with your vote on this important issue.

However, based on a review of the voting traffic patterns of the poll, we have concluded that the system in place to ensure a single vote from a single browser was compromised. Thus, the poll results — and any conclusions one tries to draw from them for or against — are invalid.

Again, thank you to our readers who took the time to vote.

Brad Bollinger, Publisher
Jan. 27, 2014

It was only an unscientific on-line poll conducted by a suburban weekly business newspaper with circulation between 6,000 and 8,000. But based on this incident, would you be in favor of an “Employee Free Choice Act” that would allow “card check” union organizing to replace a secret ballot election for unionization overseen by the National Labor Relations Board?

The board approved the Project Labor Agreement policy on a 4-0 vote.


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.