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Building Organization Wants Details On City, Unions’ Convention Center Agreement

A building industry organization demanded today that the city of San Diego release details of a recently reached agreement to end organized labor's opposition to expansion of the convention center.

Concept photo of the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.
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Above: Concept photo of the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, an organization representing nonunion shops, said in a statement that the deal gives unions control of the expansion project.

The group was the driving force behind voter-passed Proposition A, which bans the city from engaging in labor-friendly Project Labor Agreements. The ballot measure was passed by 58 percent of San Diego voters in June.

"We want to see the details of this deal and determine whether the city of San Diego had any role whether official or unofficial in bringing it about,'' said Scott Crosby, president and CEO of ABC San Diego. "Any such involvement would be in violation of the Fair and Open Competition law now in place.''

If the city had no involvement, the deal would be legal, Crosby said.

Several city leaders, including Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Council President Tony Young, took part in a news conference to announce the agreement with labor. They took pains to avoid calling it a PLA, however.

Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, said deals were reached among individual unions and the general contractor for the expansion. She said agreements mostly had to do with local hiring and safety rules.

Crosby said the agreements could prevent nonunion shops from competing for work on the San Diego Convention Center.

A spokesman for Sanders did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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