Construction unions were among the top donors to the campaign to pass Proposition 1A, the November 2008 California ballot measure that authorized the state to borrow $9.95 billion via bond sales for development of a “safe, reliable high-speed passenger train for the 21st century.” (See a chart of the top-40 donors to Proposition 1A at the end of this article.)
That support was rewarded when administrators of the California High-Speed Rail Authority subsequently signed a Project Labor Agreement (disguised as a “Community Benefits Agreement”) with the unions for future construction. The Authority board never discussed nor voted on this costly and discriminatory insider deal.
Seven years after 53% of California voters approved Proposition 1A, the public has realized, to its dismay, that most of the promises about California High-Speed Rail were exaggerated, deceptive, or impossible to achieve. The project staggers from widespread grassroots opposition and relentless (and deserved) negative news coverage. The latest: on December 7, KCRA Channel 3 News in Sacramento revealed that the tree-planting program promised in 2013 to “offset” greenhouse gas emissions from high-speed rail construction does not exist.
But one group continues to adamantly support the California High-Speed Rail program. A high-speed rail symposium was held in Bakersfield on December 5, 2015. Union officials dominated the group of speakers.
Opponents of California High-Speed Rail should realize that union support for the project means it will be difficult to ever obtain majority support in the state legislature to suspend or stop the project.
For past coverage in www.UnionWatch.org of this notorious Project Labor Agreement, see articles such as Unions Virtually Alone in Love with California High-Speed Rail, Unions Await Fantastic Return on High-Speed Rail Political Investments, and California High-Speed Rail Business Plan Misrepresents Project Labor Agreement.
For information about the tree-planting program, see the KCRA story High-Speed Rail’s Tree-Planting Plan Slow to Start: Nearly a Year after Groundbreaking, Not a Single Tree Planted and the California Policy Center article California High Speed Rail’s Dubious Claims of Environmental Benefits.
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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.