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County Board Oppose Construction Project Labor Agreements

Audio

Aired 2/24/10

San Diego County Supervisors have taken a position against union supported Project Labor Agreements. However they decided not to put the controversial issue on the ballot.

— San Diego County Supervisors have taken a position against union supported Project Labor Agreements. However they decided not to put the controversial issue on the ballot.

Project Labor Agreements are agreements negotiated before construction projects, like new schools or other public facilities. They do not necessarily limit bids to union members exclusively, but they guarantee wages and benefits similar to union scale, in return for timely completion of the job.

County Supervisor Bill Horn argued they make construction projects more expensive. He urged his colleagues to put a measure on the June ballot banning their use in county projects.

"I think the voters should have a right to decide to put this permanently in place," Horn said. " And to change this would require it to go back to the voters to undo that."

However resident Amber Prentice was one of several who pointed out there is no law in place requiring the county to make project labor agreements in the first place.

" It just seems ridiculous to me to spend $100,000 on something that doesn’t even exist," she said.

Instead, County Supervisors decided to vote for an ordinance banning the use of Project Labor Agreements in county construction.

Contractors were pleased with the outcome, though they said they would have preferred a ballot measure because is harder to undo.

Labor leaders said the move was mainly political, since the County has used Project Labor Agreements sparingly in the past. Supervisor Horn is running for reelection in June.

San Diego city residents may yet vote on the issue. Signatures are being gathered for a November ballot measure that would ban them from city construction projects.

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