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Desmond, a Union Guy, Blasted Unions on Airport Vote

Supervisor Jim Desmond sent out a statement Friday bemoaning the Airport Authority’s decision to begin negotiations on requiring contractors to do a project labor agreement with local unions for the upcoming reconstruction of Terminal 1.

Jim Desmond
Jim Desmond at the US Grant Hotel on Election Night. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

This post initially appeared in the April 13 Politics Report. Get the Politics Report delivered to your inbox.

Supervisor Jim Desmond seems to be making a move to be a leader of conservatives in San Diego. He’s become the main detractor to the big shifts the county has made since Supervisor Nathan Fletcher came aboard the same time he did. He’s also the chief antagonist to SANDAG’s new executive director, Hasan Ikrhata.

Friday he sent out a statement bemoaning the Airport Authority’s decision last week to begin negotiations on requiring contractors do a project labor agreement with local unions for the upcoming reconstruction of Terminal 1.

He is a member of the Airport Authority board, and voted against it.

“If you are not a member of this select group, you will not apply your trade on the biggest construction project in the airport’s history. Unless you join the group, the door is shut on you,” he wrote.

With project labor agreements, unions agree to guarantee there will be enough workers and to never stop work on the job and, in exchange, all workers must pass through the union halls with associated fees and benefits for them. They don’t necessarily have to be union members but it certainly benefits unions.

“The labor union bosses desperately want these work rules because it allows them to build up union bank accounts,” he said.

What makes this a bit awkward is that Desmond is himself a union member. He’s a pilot with Delta Air Lines, a member of a union that would most certainly not allow large numbers of nonunion pilots to get gigs.

He addressed the irony at the Airport Authority meeting.

“I’m in a union. I’m not anti-union. But — and I’ve seen some of the benefits of being in the union. I’ve reaped some of those over my career. But I draw the line at discrimination,” he said.

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