Backers of an initiative that would prohibit project labor agreements (PLAs) on City of San Diego construction projects were notified by San Diego City Clerk Elizabeth Maland that the signatures submitted are sufficient to qualify the measure for the next citywide ballot. (The required minimum was 62,057). So it seems voters in the City of San Diego will have the opportunity to consider and vote upon a Fair and Open Competition initiative in 2012.
A bit of poliwonk trivia: the Fair and Open Competition measure is the first City of San Diego initiative to qualify for the ballot via citizen signatures since 1998.
“The fact this measure qualified so easily is an indication that voters are eager to have their say as to whether city contracts should be open to all bidders,” said Jim Ryan, Executive Vice-President of the Associated General Contractors of America, San Diego Chapter.
If approved by the voters, the measure will prohibit the City from forcing contractors to participate in Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for City construction projects. The measure allows contractors to voluntarily participate in PLAs.
PLAs are pre-construction contracts requiring contractors bidding for the work to agree up front to contribute union dues and adhere to other union restrictions. Merit shop contractors are effectively prohibited from competing. With fewer bidders in the process to drive down prices, PLAs have been shown to increase taxpayer funded public construction costs.
Voters in the cities of Chula Vista and Oceanside and in the County of San Diego approved similar measures in 2010.
“The fair and open competition initiative simply guarantees the right of all contractors including the 87% of contractors who are non-union to compete for city contracts on a level playing field with their union counterparts,” said Scott Crosby, President of the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego. “Everyone stands at the same starting line with no advantage. Fair and open competition insures the best quality and best price for the taxpayers.”
Fair and Open Competition San Diego provided a list of FAQs regarding this initiative which we provide below:
Frequently Asked Questions About the Fair and Open Competition in Construction Ordinance
Q. How many signatures were required to get this measure on the ballot?
A. 62,057 or 10% of all registered voters in the City of San Diego.
Q. When will the fair and open competition measure appear on the ballot?
A. We expect it to be on the June 2012 ballot.
Q. What other governments have passed fair and open competition legislation?
A. Most recently, voters in the County of San Diego passed a fair and open competition measure in November 2010 by an overwhelming 76% of the vote. The City of Chula Vista passed a fair and open competition measure in June 2010 by 56% of the vote. The City of Oceanside passed a similar provision in their 2010 charter by 54% of the vote.
The governing bodies of Orange County, Stanislaus County, Placer County, and the City of Fresno have enacted similar ordinances.
The following states have enacted fair and open competition laws: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Utah. By Executive Order, PLAs were banned on federal projects from 2001 – 2009.
Q. How do we know PLAs raise contract costs?
A. In July, the National University Institute for Public Policy Studies released a study of the effect PLAs have on public construction projects in California, focusing on Los Angeles school construction. The result: PLAs add 13 to 15 percent to the cost of public construction. See The Cost of PLAs.
Q. How many non-union private construction workers are there in California?
A. Merit shop (non-union) workers are by far the majority (84.3%). In 2010, only 15.7% of workers in California private construction were members of unions.
See these union membership statistics.
Q. What does the Ordinance say?
A. A copy of the proposed ordinance is posted on the Fair and Open Competition San Diego website: http://www.fairandopencompetition.com/
FULL DISCLOSURE: Associated Builders and Contractors San Diego is a client of my public relations firm, Falcon Valley Group. Independent of this business relationship and speaking strictly as the Libertarian Lass, I am firmly in support of banning project labor agreements.