by Jim Ryan, Executive Vice President, Associated General Contractors of America, San Diego Chapter
I assume at least a few of our Monday Morning Quarterback readers have woken up in the morning after drinking too much cheap red wine. You know the feeling…..the headache…the bad taste in your mouth….. trying to recollect exactly what happened last night….and then trying to figure out how much money you spent!!
Well no doubt, this is how…. Sacramento union boss, Bob Balgenorth, head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council and former IBEW official, feels this morning!! Bob took it upon himself to show the citizens of San Diego how powerful a big time Sacramento union boss can be by spending $1.2 million to defeat Prop A…..and all he ended up with is a bad headache and a terrible taste in his mouth! Bob…..guess what….there is no mouthwash made that can make the drubbing you took last night taste better!!
Prop A, the Fair and Open Competition Ordinance (FOCO) was approved by City of San Diego voters last night by 58.23% to 41.77%, a victory many would call a LANDSLIDE!!! Union Boss Bob did everything he could to prevent this from happening.
He and his San Diego friends…..Lorena Gonzalez, head of the AFL CIO in San Diego, and Tom Lemmon, head of the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, panicked in September of 2011 when the coalition of associations that support FOCO turned in over 90,000 signatures of citizens of San Diego that petitioned the City Council to put Prop A on the ballot in yesterday’s election. Instead of planning a campaign to defend the concept of using PLAs on public projects, Union Boss Bob, Lorena, and Tom turned to the State Legislature. They convinced their cronies in Sacramento to pass SB 922 and SB 829 which were designed to intimidate San Diego voters. Both bills, which most feel are unconstitutional, threatened voters with cutting off state funds for construction projects if the voters dared to approve Prop A.
Union Boss Bob then evidently told Lorena and Tom to get out of the way…..he would show them how to run a campaign to defeat Prop A. He hired Sacramento consultants and lawyers and used a “slush fund” called the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust to finance the campaign. He spent somewhere around $1.2 million to run the campaign which included mail, radio ads, and TV. The campaign tried to emphasize the threat of losing state funds and how PLAs that eliminate competition are actually good public policy.
The FOCO campaign responded by simply staying on message…..the City Council should be required to allow all citizens and qualified contractors to compete for City construction projects. Contractors should not be required to sign a union collective bargaining agreement as a condition of working on City of San Diego construction projects. The FOCO campaign spent less than half what Union Boss Bob spent to get their message out.
Well…after all the votes were counted last night, Union Boss Bob will be flying back to Sacramento this morning with a powerful headache, a bad taste in his mouth, and no money in his “slush fund.” The voters rejected the intimidation, and responded overwhelmingly that they want their construction projects to be awarded in a Fair and Open process. The voters stood up to the bullies!!!!
AGC would like to thank our partners in this effort….the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, and the Western Electrical Contractors Association. We would also like to thank all of the AGC member firms that stepped up to the plate and donated to the campaign. This was an industry wide effort….and it will insure City of San Diego construction projects are not controlled by bullies like Union Boss Bob, Lorena, and Tom. Every contractor, whether they sign a collective bargaining agreement or not, will have the opportunity to compete.
Nice job everyone!!!