Politics Report: The 180-Degree Shift in Union Construction Politics


Politics Report: The 180-Degree Shift in Union Construction Politics

The politics around union contracting rules have flipped over the last decade, and two groups formed to help improve Balboa Park have, at long last, finalized their merger.

It wasn’t so long ago that every time you turned around, voters were approving measures that banned cities from using project labor agreements. A decade later, PLA politics have almost completely inverted.

Chula Vista and Oceanside voters in 2010 barred their cities from using the agreements, which stipulate wages and benefits for construction workers on city projects and mandate that contractors hire through union halls. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously did the same that year, and two years later voters in the city of San Diego and El Cajon imposed the same restriction.

Now, the city of San Diego is on its way to overturning that 2012 measure, after a City Council committee took the first steps of putting a new measure on the November 2022 ballot. Chula Vista voters last year struck down their ban. And PLA proponents are preparing to put another measure on the 2022 ballot to end the county ban (although state law has already effectively killed the county’s measure).

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