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Non-Union Contractors Sue S.D. Unified Over Prop. S


Aired 7/30/09

A non-union construction contractors group is suing the San Diego Unified School District over how money is spent on Proposition S school bond projects.

— A non-union construction contractors group is suing the San Diego Unified School District over how money is spent on Proposition S school bond projects.

A divided San Diego Unified school board voted about three months ago to give unionized labor millions of dollars worth in repair and renovation projects under Prop. S, the district's $2.1 billion school bond measure.

Now the local chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, representing non-union contractors, is suing the district.

The contractors group is trying to overturn the labor agreement by using a state law they say requires all public works projects to employ state-approved apprentices connected with unions and non-union construction companies.

Jim Ryan with the Association General Contractors says the district's deal is illegal.

"Really, our goal here is to stop the discrimination of our apprentices," Ryan said. "If they can figure out a way to write (the agreement) to include our apprentices in, more power to (the school district officials). But they have to include our apprentices and the people they work for."

Millions of dollars are at a stake at a time when construction has slowed. Pro-union supporters call the lawsuit an "obstructionist effort" by contractor lobbyists. They say its wasting taxpayer dollars.

Stephanie Monroe with the Center on Policy Initiatives says non-union apprentices are not being shut-out. She says what is happening is the district is giving unions priority because their training programs graduate 92 percent of the state’s construction apprentices.

“When you are with an non-union apprenticeship program, you might be with this job for one to two years, but then after you're done with that job, they kick you out of the (training) program, or you're no longer in the program,” Monroe said. “So most of their apprenticeship students never graduate.”

The contractors group disputes that. They want the district to change or end the agreement.

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Avatar for user 'PMP'

PMP | July 31, 2009 at 11:47 a.m. ― 7 years, 7 months ago

Stephanie, I'm not sure what you call being shut out but the wording in the agreement clearly states that STATE APPROVED non union apprentices will not be allowed to work on Prop S funded school work. Yes Stephanie, these individuals who LIVE IN THE AREA and will pay for the bond will not have the oppertunity to work on the schools they and their children went / go to.
Where exactly did you get your information regarding being "kicked out" of the non union training program?
Perhaps you could explain why a non union contractor has to hire every other employee out of the union hiring hall under this agreement. How about the fact that non union employees must contribute to the union's retirement plan which due to vesting they won't see on dime of their hard earned pension contributions. Stephanie, maybe you could comment on the dire straits of union retirement plans and how non union contractors working under this Prop S agreement have to pay "their fare share" of the union pension plan deficit.
Funny how our school system stands behind everyone getting a tax payer funded education regardless of citizenship yet we deny San Diego citizens the opportunity to build the buildings the education is provided in just because they don't belong to an association (union). In this time of dire education funding our school system voted to eliminate 85% of the construction industry (non union) from bidding / working on a project WE WILL ALL END UP PAYING FOR.
Stephanie please save your sound bites for those less informed.

Philip M. Piel

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