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SD County Ban On Project Labor Agreements To Be Put On November Ballot

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors decided today to put a ban on Project Labor Agreements before the voters on the November ballot.

By offering voters an amendment to the county charter, the board went a step further than a simple ordinance they approved in February.

The November measure, if passed, would amend the county charter to prohibit the county from requiring such deals with labor unions for construction projects. That means future boards would not be able to overturn the ban without a public vote.

Voters passed similar amendments recently in Oceanside and Chula Vista.

PLAs grant union requests on wages, health benefits and hiring of local workers in exchange for labor peace and timely completion of public projects.

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education placed a PLA on projects under the $1.2 billion Proposition S bond measure, after it was already passed by voters.

Opponents say the agreements cut non-union contractors out of public works and increase costs.

Supervisor Bill Horn said PLAs boost project price tags by 10-20 percent.

"The contract should go to whoever can build it better, faster and cheaper than the rest,'' Horn said.

The measure, which passed on a 4-1 vote, will cost the county $100,000 to place on the ballot.

Supervisor Greg Cox dissented because he felt the February ordinance was strong enough.

The ban will have several exceptions in cases where PLAs are required by federal or state law, and in not preventing individual contractors from entering into such agreements on their own for county projects.

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