San Diego voters reject fraudulent Measure D

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Measure D — placed directly on the Nov. 8 ballot by the San Diego City Council — would repeal Measure A of 2012, an initiative supported by 58 percent of San Diego voters which prohibited the city’s use of union-friendly project labor agreements. PLAs, as they are widely known, require successful applicants for government projects to employ union and non-union workers at similar wages, benefits and terms. Supporters of Measure A convinced voters in 2012 that such rules would give a monopoly to a minority of workers, discourage competition that would keep costs down for taxpayers and create significant disadvantages for nonunion construction companies that employ more than 4 in 5 local workers. Opponents claim that PLAs have a track record of leading to better-built projects that come in on time and on budget. Supporters criticized the long history of racial discrimination in union building. Opponents have argued that union jobs fight income inequality, fuel economic gains, are good for all workers and increasingly go to women and people of color.

The same arguments are raised again this year. And, yes, reasonable people can see the need for competition as a solid argument against repealing the PLA ban and worry about the troubling racial history of construction unions. And, yes, reasonable people can see the need to create uniform, fair wages and benefits on government construction projects as a reason to repeal the ban and lament the extent of the hostility of the private sector to the trade unions

Yet once repeal supporters — starting with Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Sean Elo-Rivera — got down to their central reason for overturning San Diego’s voter-approved ban on PLAs, it didn’t nothing to do with the alleged effectiveness of PLAs in getting projects. fill in. Instead, they say the repeal would ensure that the state or federal government does not cite any PLA bans to allow them to potentially deny hundreds of millions of dollars in state or federal funding to local governments with such bans. His argument hinges on California legislation — backed by unions to limit bans by ostensibly independent charter cities — that was signed into law in 2011 as part of the broader battle over proposed bans like Measure A in San Diego. And it depends on the fact that President Joe Biden signed an executive order that imposes project work agreements on federal projects with certain exceptions in February.

But the twist is that this is a real threat — at least when it comes to San Diego. Measure A has a specific exemption that allows PLAs to be used on projects where doing otherwise would put state or federal funding at risk. And there is no evidence that the ban has cost the city any funding since its passage, as the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last month.

Should there be a vigorous debate about union and business influence in government contracting decisions? Of course. Such debates must also consider sensitive diversity issues—not only historical obstacles for Blacks in the construction industry, but the fact that in the United States, more than 1.5 million undocumented people, mostly Latinos, are they working in the industry without full legal protection? Absolutely. But that broad, healthy discussion isn’t what’s happening with Measure D. Instead, voters are being told they have to act or the sky will fall, denying the city the state and federal funding it needs to complete many projects. citizens who need it.

This statement cannot be supported. The bottom line is that draft labor agreements limit fair competition and put smaller businesses — and especially many Blacks — at a disadvantage. Nothing in Measure D changes that. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board recommends a “no” vote on Measure D.