4/27/08

Non-union construction jobs disappearing

Two local construction trade groups want to amend the Chula Vista (CA) City Charter to prevent the city or its redevelopment agency from funding projects that require that construction employees belong to a union. The Associated General Contractors of San Diego Inc. and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of San Diego Inc. have pledged $110,000 each to kick off a voter initiative to gather signatures to place the measure on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election in Chula Vista.

The money will help pay for advertising costs and supplies used by volunteers to collect signatures.

“There’s a lot more to come,” said George Hawkins, president and chief executive officer of the local ABC chapter, who says his association has spent $215,000 on the issue for attorneys’ fees and conducting public opinion polling.

The groups planned to kick off their campaign April 23 to get the measure on the ballot.

Organizers must gather about 9,000 signatures — 10 percent of registered voters — to qualify for the Nov. 4 general election ballot, says Donna Norris, interim city clerk.

They must also take care of several administrative requirements spelled out in the state election code, such as publishing notice before circulating the petition.

“We may still be able to make it, if they want to turn it in now, but nothing has been circulated to be submitted,” said Norris.

It Started With Gaylord

The effort follows a labor union dispute in Chula Vista last year between Nashville, Tenn.-based Gaylord Entertainment and local unions about a proposal to build a 1,500-room hotel and convention center on the Chula Vista waterfront.

Though supported by local officials, the proposed $900 million project is complicated by labor union demands that Gaylord sign a project labor agreement, requiring union participation in the project. The unions, represented by the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and San Diego Building Trades Council, say the agreement would ensure Gaylord hire local workers.

Gaylord has refused to sign the agreement.

“The Gaylord project started the thinking,” said Hawkins, adding that such union-only agreements shut out competition since 85 percent of the industry does not belong to a union.

(sdbj.com)

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