Union Controlled California Legislature Passes Law to Undercut Local Project Labor Agreement Reforms

On April 26th Governor Jerry Brown signed SB829 into law, a bill sponsored by the State Building & Construction Trades Unions.  After heavy lobbying by labor unions and with minimal public debate, SB829 was passed in the State Senate and Assembly on a straight party line vote.  SB829 is an attempt to undercut Proposition A, the Fair and Open Competition Initiative, which is on the June ballot in San Diego.

SB829 restricts the availability of construction funds to charter cities that refuse to consider union-friendly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on City construction projects.  Experts agree these types of agreements increase construction costs by 13 – 15 percent.  The bill, backed by the State Building & Construction Trades Unions, will give labor unions control of local construction money and block savings for local taxpayers. SB829 was opposed by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, the League of California Cities, and the California Chamber of Commerce.

San Diego’s Proposition A will prevent the City Council from imposing mandatory PLAs on City-funded construction projects.  This means equal treatment for union and non-union workers.  It also requires the Mayor to post construction contracts online for public review.  Proposition A is endorsed by San Diego mayoral candidates Bonnie Dumanis, Carl DeMaio, and Nathan Fletcher; In November 2010, San Diego County’s version of Proposition A passed with 76 percent of the vote and won every precinct in San Diego County.

San Diego has historically sought to manage its construction contracts with minimal interference from the State Legislature. Scott Crosby, President of the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, said, “SB829 has serious constitutional defects. However, that has not stopped some in the legislature from backing what should be a non-starter. SB829 is a power grab by Sacramento politicians that will certainly be overturned by the courts.”

“We all know this is a legislative maneuver to take local control away from San Diego and keep it in the hands of special interests,” San Diego County Senator Joel Anderson said.

“It is extremely frustrating for local governments when the legislature places restrictions on them financially,” San Diego County Senator Mark Wyland said. “In this instance, it is their local control that we are intruding upon, and it makes no sense. Let’s not burden our cities anymore.”

Here are additional reports on the passage of SB829:

Brown moves to protect labor-friendly contracts
April 26, 2012, San Diego Union Tribune

New State Law Could Affect Prop A
April 27, 2012, San Diego Reader

San Diego’s Proposition A Clouded by Signing of State Bill
April 27, 2012, San Diego Newsroom

Bill Baber is the government affairs director for the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego.

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