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South Bay Politics

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfuybIKJBgQ

Video published May 21, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: We discuss Prop G and ask the editors about the strength and influence of labor in the South Bay.

GLORIA PENNER: Chula Vista has a competitive mayor’s race, a hot council race, and the first ever elected city attorney’s race. But there's Proposition G. And Proposition G would ban union guarantees on city-funded projects. Now there's some movement towards developing the bay front there. So Scott, how will what's happening at the bay front affect the vote on Proposition G? Or won’t it?

SCOTT LEWIS: Well a project labor agreement, which Proposition G attacks, is an agreement between a developer, somebody building something, and the unions. And the unions agree then not to strike. And in exchange for that agreement they get certain amounts of benefits, for example, that they have to pay at a union wage, they have to help train union workers, or something like that. But it’s not necessarily guaranteeing that unions get those contracts. The question with the bayfront is – and this is what the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce had to deal with in particular was – they actually came out against this, even though they're not necessarily a friend of the labor unions. Because they were worried that as the bay front gets built, that the port would agree to some kind of project labor agreement like this and that Chula Vista perhaps wouldn’t be able to participate and help fund that development because of Proposition G. And so that was a barrier that the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce and some other places have been very worried about. And so they’ve decided to oppose this. Now whether those are legitimate worries or not I think is under debate. But the fact is they're under debate by lawyers. And lawyers would have to get involved with litigation, which brings up another worry about this law – that it would cause lawsuits to be filed.

PENNER: Ok well before – if we do get to that – I first want to get from you, David, how strong you feel the influence of labor is in the South Bay.

DAVID KING: Well just look to the Gaylord Project. It never happened because of the…

PENNER: This was the one on the bay front that was supposed to happen and then Gaylord pulled out.

KING: Right. It would have been a massive convention center. It would have been a revitalization of the South Bay, and largely because of a coordinated effort between environmental groups and labor unions. And largely use of environmental threats to force them into a project labor agreement. Gaylord pulled out and said we’re not going to build then.

PENNER: Was that because Gaylord said that’s going to make the project too expensive?

KING: Correct.

PENNER: Is that the danger then, Scott? I mean the danger is if you have these project labor agreements that projects are going to be just too expensive for the developer to get any kind of profit out of.

LEWIS: I don’t accept the assumption that that was the reason that Gaylord didn’t build down there. They had gotten largely past a lot of those issues. They wanted a larger subsidy to make sure that that could get built. There're all kinds of issues why that didn’t happen. I think that yes, it is an issue though. I mean there are concerns that labor unions are exercising too much power on this and demanding that costs for these projects are too high. That doesn’t pencil out. And I think that those are issues that we have to deal with. The question is does the government itself need to deal with them, or can the developers of the projects themselves decide how to deal with the labor unions?

PENNER: We have like 10 seconds left. Which one? Go with it, or…

KING: No, I would agree with Scott. And if Proposition G passes a contractor can still enter into a project labor agreement. The city can’t require them to do it. That’s the difference. The city can't require a contractor to enter into a project labor agreement. If you want the protection that Scott’s espousing here, a contractor is free to enter into project labor agreement. The city just can't mandate it.

PENNER: Thank you very much David King, Scott Lewis.

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