Tag Archive for Jerry Sanders

My Article in www.UnionWatch.org – Finally Got It! Secret Union Deal for San Diego Convention Center

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has never given up its effort to research and expose how the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council obtained a Project Labor Agreement for the $520 million San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion.

In November 2012 it obtained the settlement agreements between the unions and the City of San Diego that ended the union objections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the union lawsuit against the financing scheme for repaying the bonds. This was reported in my November 15, 2012 blog post Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Obtains City of San Diego Settlement Agreements with Unions for Convention Center.

My April 23, 2013 article in www.UnionWatch.org entitled Persistent Pressure Compels San Diego to Spit Out Project Labor Agreement reported on how the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction finally obtained the Project Labor Agreement negotiated between Clark Construction and the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council for the convention center expansion. It was released by the City of San Diego after the Coalition filed a lawsuit to get the union agreement and other elusive public records.

Now the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has obtained from the City of San Diego a September 21, 2012 email from a personal Gmail account of the Chief of Staff to former Mayor Jerry Sanders. That email outlines a deal to be discussed at a 2:00 p.m. meeting that day between the mayor and Lorena Gonzalez, former head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and now a member of the California State Assembly.

My article Finally Got It! Secret Union Deal for San Diego Convention Center posted today (July 8, 2013) on www.UnionWatch.org describes the deal and identifies ten outrages about it.

Unions and Mayor in San Diego Brag to the Public about San Diego Convention Center Construction Deal, But Refuse to Provide It to the Public

Looks like the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council got a little too cocky about their election successes on November 6.

They inexplicably joined the Mayor of San Diego on November 8 for a press conference to announce a deal about construction of the proposed San Diego Civic Center expansion. But they selectively withheld key information about the deal and were caught in a trap by the press.

As I reported on November 8 (see Unions Get Control of San Diego Convention Center Expansion), San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Labor Council CEO Lorena Gonzalez, officials with the joint venture construction manager Clark/Hunt, and others appeared at an unexpected press conference on November 8 to triumphantly announce a “deal” that would end union environmental objections to the planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

I hear that many of San Diego’s most prominent civic leaders were surprised about the hasty scheduling of this salute to the effectiveness of extortion using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Obviously the press conference was organized and carried out with limited notice in order to avoid disruption by certain organizations that oppose Project Labor Agreements and oppose the exploitation of CEQA to coerce Project Labor Agreements from development interests. This union practice is called “greenmail” (blackmail using environmental laws) and is rampant in California, including the San Diego area.

None of the speakers at the press conference mentioned a Project Labor Agreement in their formal statements. But the San Diego Merit Shop construction industry and its allies had promoted the issue over the past several years, and suspicious reporters afterwards reportedly asked if a Project Labor Agreement was part of the deal. The answer, of course, was YES.

Today (November 13, 2012), the San Diego Union-Tribune published an excellent article (Convention Center Deal Revives Rift Over Pacts) outlining what is known about the union deal. It reports a similarity between the circumstances of this deal and those surrounding the proposed San Diego Padres baseball stadium (Petco Park) in 1999 and 2000, when unions withdrew environmental objections in conjunction with the announcement of a Project Labor Agreement. The article also points out the secretive nature of this agreement:

When Mayor Jerry Sanders, joined by San Diego labor leader Lorena Gonzalez, announced last week that the city’s unions would be reversing course and supporting the project, he made no mention of the labor pact. He focused instead on agreements the city had worked out with the unions to resolve environmental and worker safety issues they had raised that could have put the waterfront project in jeopardy when it goes before the California Coastal Commission next year…Tom Lemmon, business manager for the Trades Council…was unwilling to provide a copy of what he says is a private agreement…

Of course! The deal to build this public project is so wonderful that the public won’t be allowed to see it! Let’s celebrate.

I Tweeted this message after reading this story:

Kevin Dayton@DaytonPubPolicy

“Mr. Lemmon, let the People see your San Diego Convention Center deal! Mr. Lemmon, let the People read your agreement!”  

I also Tweeted this announcement:

Kevin Dayton@DaytonPubPolicy

1st California example of Left overreach after election: unions hide “deal” for San Diego Convention Ctr public project

The unions are absolutely determined to keep the Project Labor Agreement secret, because labor policy experts will have a primary source document to analyze and criticize if it gets in circulation. Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has damaged the reputation of this deal by exposing its existence, but now the public need to obtain the Project Labor Agreement and read it, instead of believing government-sanctioned propaganda issued at a press conference.

Unions Get Control of San Diego Convention Center Expansion: CEQA Abuse Is Effective, Fair and Open Competition Ordinance Evaded

The Moment of LIE - San Diego Convention Center Project Labor Agreement

The Moment of LIE – San Diego Convention Center Project Labor Agreement

As announced at a press conference this afternoon (November 8, 2012) featuring San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and top San Diego union officials (including Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Central Labor Council), the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO and the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council have made “deals” with the City of San Diego and the prime contractor (a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and Hunt Construction Group) for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Phase 3.

Although Mayor Sanders twice said “no” in response to a question about a Project Labor Agreement, contractors will indeed be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement (with the joint venture firm of Clark/Hunt) in order to work on the project. Union officials are dropping their environmental objections and supporting the project now. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported clearly that “greenmail” motivated supporters of the project to make a deal giving unions control of the work:

Continued opposition from organized labor, both in the courtroom and at the Coastal Commission, clearly threatened to derail the expansion.

“Labor and labor’s lawyers are competent and well-financed and neutralizing that as a threat to this project is a very important milestone,” said Charles Black, the city’s project manager for the expansion.

This deal is also a consequence of pro-union Congressman Bob Filner winning the race for San Diego Mayor. Obviously outgoing Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders – who will become the next head of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce – decided to surrender to the unions rather than let his successor get the credit for moving the project forward.

Clark/Hunt has signed a Project Labor Agreement directly with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, in order to evade the Fair and Open Competition ordinance (Measure A) approved by 58% of city voters in June 2012. That ordinance prohibits the city from entering into a contract requiring companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions. (The National Labor Relations Act prohibits a city government from banning a Project Labor Agreement between an employer and unions.)

Clark Construction has a history in California of signing Project Labor Agreements to satisfy the unions and avoid trouble. For example, Clark signed a Project Labor Agreement in 2000 for San Diego’s Petco Park, in 2001 for the Fresno Community Health Systems Downtown Campus and in 2011 for the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach.

Union CEQA Documents Submitted to Port of San Diego - Convention Center Expansion

Document Dump: a lawyer for labor unions submitted hundreds of pages of CEQA objections at the very last minute against the proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion.

As a party to the CEQA complaints, UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 obviously must have received economic concessions as well.

The triumphant news is coming out fast and furious from San Diego news media, surely to the surprise of most residents who didn’t know that unions (through the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo) had submitted hundreds of pages of documents claiming that the Environmental Impact Report for the San Diego Convention Center expansion violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

One comment on the KPBS news article (linked below) suggests that perhaps San Diego will end up hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention. I wouldn’t be surprised.

News Coverage

Labor Drops Opposition to Convention Center Expansion – San Diego Union-Tribune – November 8, 2012

Organized labor has dropped its opposition to the planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center after winning a number of concessions aimed at protecting workers, ensuring local hiring and guaranteeing defined benefits. The agreement to support the expansion, announced by Mayor Jerry Sanders, removes a major hurdle that threatened to derail the $520 million project…

With Labor Deal, Convention Center Expansion Clears Major Hurdle – Voice of San Diego – ‎November 8, 2012

San Diego’s $520 million proposed Convention Center expansion received a major boost Thursday, when Mayor Jerry Sanders announced a formal agreement with labor groups to support the project. Labor will drop its lawsuits against the project’s …

Labor Drops Opposition to Convention Center Expansion – North County Times – November 8, 2012

The planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center cleared a major hurdle Thursday, with the announcement that organized labor has dropped all opposition to the $520 million project. Mayor Jerry Sanders, joined by San Diego labor leader Lorena Gonzalez…

Labor Unions Drop Opposition to Convention Center Expansion – San Diego 6 – November 8, 2012

Organized labor will drop its opposition to a planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center due to a series of agreements reached with the city and the project contractor, the two sides announced Thursday. At a news conference…

San Diego, Unions Reach Agreement On Convention Center Expansion – KPBS – November 8, 2012

Labor groups have agreed to drop out of lawsuits against the Convention Center expansion after coming to agreements regarding worker safety, local hiring and other issues. This does not mean all litigation against the project is done. In February a judge will…

I wrote about the union “greenmail” extensively, but the San Diego civic leadership obviously wanted to avoid jeopardizing the project and kept the issue quiet. See these articles:

CEQA Greenmail Still Effective for Unions in San Diego: Just a Cost of Doing Business for Pragmatic Civic Leaders – October 10, 2012

www.UnionWatch.org Publishes My Comprehensive Analysis of the Union CEQA Greenmail Against the San Diego Convention Center Expansion – September 21, 2012

The Greenmail is Now Public: Union CEQA Extortion of San Diego Convention Center Featured on www.FlashReport.org – September 20, 2012

Brazen! Union Officials and Their Environmental Lawyers at Port Commissioners’ Meeting Threaten to Stop San Diego Convention Center Expansion Using California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – September 20, 2012

Unions Submit 436 Pages of Objections to Draft Environmental Impact Report for Proposed San Diego Convention Center Phase III Expansion Project: CEQA Abuse Run Rampant – August 8, 2012

 
 

Brazen! Union Officials and Their Environmental Lawyers at Port Commissioners’ Meeting Threaten to Stop San Diego Convention Center Expansion Using California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The September 19, 2012 meeting of the United Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners was packed with the San Diego region’s civic leadership, including the Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. They were at the meeting to see and celebrate the Port taking the next steps in approving the proposed $520 million San Diego Convention Center expansion, as well as an expansion of the adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. Representatives were there from numerous major business groups in the region, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

United Port of San Diego Headquarters Building on Pacific Highway

United Port of San Diego Headquarters Building, where union officials and their lawyer brazenly abused CEQA on September 19, 2012 in front of San Diego’s civic leadership.

Also there was Kevin Dayton, President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC. No one there knew or cared, and I finally found a seat in the back corner. I suspected that the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo was going to pull a stunt at the meeting on behalf of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30. Knowing their modus operendi, I figured a lawyer was going to make a huge last-minute document dump at the meeting under the authority of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). I was right!

The party-poopers promptly rained on the parade when the commissioners opened the agenda item to public comment. An official of the UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 led off the attack by declaring that the 1400-page final Environmental Impact Report required under CEQA was deficient and needed to be withdrawn for revisions. Then someone from the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo submitted to the commissioners a 42 page letter (with 197 footnotes) on behalf of the phony union front group called “The San Diego Coalition for A Better Convention Center” with 250 pages of referenced exhibits. She was given extra time to speak because Tom Lemmon – head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – submitted a speaker card and then transferred his speaking time to her.

CEQA Objections to San Diego Convention Center Expansion

The cover page of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) “document dump” of the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo on behalf of unions against the Environmental Impact Report for the San Diego Convention Center expansion project.

Never to be left out of a militant union action in San Diego, Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego County Central Labor Council, rushed into the meeting late to announce there were problems with the Environmental Impact Report for the convention center. She proposed that the Port Commissioners approve a “tolling agreement” that would extend the statute of limitations for the unions to file a lawsuit. This would give unions more time to squeeze their demands out of the developers and the convention center’s public and private partners.

A representative of the leftist San Diego-based Center for Policy Initiatives attended the meeting but did not speak. This group has not been involved in CEQA issues, but it is very involved in labor issues.

I also spoke, as a representative of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC. I noted there was an underlying story and then revealed the whole scheme. Of course, most people in the room knew about it already but do not want to acknowledge it in public.

After these antics, the Port Commissioners recessed the meeting for about 20 minutes so Port staff could scan the document dump by Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo and make a preliminary determination of whether or not the unions introduced new and valid CEQA objections to the proposed convention center and hotel expansion. If the comments were serious threats, the Port Commissioners would need to table the approval of the Environmental Impact Report.

Staff ultimately identified four potential areas vulnerable to lawsuits or appeals, but also indicated how the issues would be addressed. In the end, the Port Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Environmental Impact Report, while noting that they expected litigation and appeals unless relevant parties were able to make a deal with the unions.

What is the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council seeking with its CEQA objections? As I documented in my March 11, 2011 www.thetruthaboutPLAs.com article entitled It’s Out in the Open: Project Labor Agreement a Costly Possibility for San Diego Convention Center Expansion, construction union officials want a requirement for construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the projects. Presumably UNITE HERE wants some sort of neutrality agreement for union organizing.

It’s nothing new in California and nothing new in San Diego. It’s “greenmail.”

NEWS MEDIA COVERAGE

Convention Center Project Takes a Major Step Forward – San Diego Union-Tribune – September 20, 2012

Port Approves Environmental Report For Convention Center Expansion – KPBS – September 19, 2012

Comments Criticizing Draft Environmental Impact Report for San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase III Include Analysis of Proposed Project Labor Agreement

A group called Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow (ACT) announced today (June 29, 2012) that it has “submitted 20 pages with 22 comments noting deficiencies in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed San Diego Convention Center Phase III Expansion and the proposed adjacent high-rise addition to the San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel.”

The California Energy Commission has approved the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow as an intervenor in the licensing process for several large power plants. ACT has also submitted comments about the draft EIR for the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan and comments about the draft EIR for the Sutter Elk Grove Master Plan.

The latest submission from the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow is to the Unified Port of San Diego, which is designated as the “lead agency” for this $520 million project. See a copy of ACT’s comments here. Below is a photo of the ACT submission at the Port of San Diego headquarters:

The comments submitted by Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow include a section about the proposed Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase III.

Rumors about a Project Labor Agreement for this project have circulated for a couple of years. See “It’s Out in the Open: Project Labor Agreement a Costly Possibility for San Diego Convention Center Expansion” – www.thetruthaboutPLAs.com – March 11, 2011; “Contractors Opposed to Union Labor Mandate on Convention Center Expansion” – San Diego Union-Tribune – February 22, 2011; A PLA for the Convention Center?San Diego Union-Tribune (editorial) – May 27, 2011; “Three Takeaways from the Convention Center Vote” – Voice of San Diego – May 7, 2012.

Here’s the section of the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow comments that addresses the proposed Project Labor Agreement:

The Report Ignores the Environmental Impact of Commuting Vehicles of Out-of-Area Construction Workers, Especially Those Dispatched from Labor Union Hiring Halls with Large Geographical Jurisdictions

The news media has reported that the governing boards of one of the multiple public agencies entangled in the Project (the City of San Diego, the San Diego Unified Port District, or the San Diego Convention Center Corporation) may require the construction manager/construction-manager-at-risk/design-build contractor to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with affiliates of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council in order to work on the Project.

Under a Project Labor Agreement, all construction companies are required to obtain their workers from a worker dispatching program of applicable trade union hiring halls. (This is in contrast to the employment practices of non-union contractors, which use employment applications to develop a permanent in-house workforce.)

As a result, construction trade workers in unions with a large geographical jurisdiction that includes San Diego may travel hundreds of miles to work on the Project. This is confirmed in the opening brief submitted to the California Supreme Court by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California in State Building and Construction Trades Council v. City of Vista. This brief acknowledges that “construction workers today routinely commute to projects outside the cities in which they happen to live” and “it is not uncommon for today’s construction workers to commute more than 100 miles to work at a job site.” This happens because construction trade unions have geographical jurisdictions that often encompass large regions and because they use a “traveler” classification so out-of-area union workers have access to jobs.

In addition, Project Labor Agreements cannot guarantee the employment of “local” residents on a Project – they can only set local hiring as a goal. And the definition of “local” can vary widely – in many cases, unions and union agreements consider “local” to be anyone dispatched from the union hiring hall that applies to the large geographic region that includes the project in question.

In order to account for the effects on greenhouse gas emissions of possible long-distance commuting of unionized construction workers from Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino to downtown San Diego, the Draft EIR needs to assess the geographical regions of each trade union with jurisdiction over elements of Project construction work and define the hiring and dispatching procedures of each of those unions.

Also, the Draft EIR needs to identify the likely non-union general contractors and subcontractors based in the San Diego region that have the capability to perform work on this Project and have plans to bid on the Project (if they are not required to sign a Project Labor Agreement), in order to determine the comparative effects on greenhouse gas emissions of the commuting vehicles of the employees of these local employees.

Finally, the Draft EIR needs to determine what percentage of construction trade workers in the San Diego region are union members. The Current Population Survey statistics on the California construction labor market (published by a joint collaboration of the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics) indicates that in California in 2011, 16.9% of construction workers were union members. (This figure includes the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a relatively high percentage of union workers.) Consider this statistic with observations from various construction trade associations in the region, and clearly non-union workers overwhelmingly dominate the San Diego construction labor market. Under a Project Labor Agreement, unions would need to obtain workers from outside of the San Diego region.

According to the announcement from the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow, “This convention center expansion is rolling down the hill and picking up speed while the public is confused about what’s going on…The Draft Environmental Impact Report doesn’t make the situation any better for citizens of the City of San Diego…The Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow will ensure that the public is fully informed about the environmental implications of this convention center expansion.”

The announcement also notes that comments submitted by the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow include the following criticisms:

  1. The report clumsily combines two projects into one, thus confusing the public.
  2. The report neglects to inform the public of how the many public and private entities involved with the projects are responsible for the environmental mitigation.
  3. The report justifies the projects to the public with propaganda and without any consideration of the legitimate arguments to not build the project (and thus spare the environment from new damage.)
  4. The report fails to address the public’s concern about blocked views from other properties – views that have a measurable market value.
  5. The report fails to address the public’s concern about litter thrown in the harbor.
  6. The report fails to inform the public of how a union-only Project Labor Agreement would encourage out-of-area workers to commute to the construction sites each day.
  7. The report neglects to inform the public about the details of 45,000 square feet of retail space planned for the project.

Public discussion about expanding the San Diego Convention Center began in 2008, and in January 2009, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders formed the Mayor’s Citizen Task Force on the San Diego Convention Center Project “to evaluate and recommend the necessary steps required to ensure San Diego’s ability to retain and enhance its current market position in the convention and meeting industry.” Considering the vested interests appointed to this Task Force, no one was surprised when the Task Force voted 15-1 to recommend expanding the convention center, with only Lani Lutar – head of the San Diego County Taxpayers Associationvoting NO because of uncertainty about the source of funding for the expansion. Of interest is that one of the Task Force members was Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Central Labor Council.

Articles: Traditional Newspapers

Convention Center EIR Cites Numerous Impacts – San Diego Union-Tribune – July 3, 2012

Port Preparing Final Convention Center Environmental Impact Report – San Diego Daily Transcript – July 3, 2012 (mentions the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow submitted comments)

Concerns Expressed on Center Expansion: Report Brings Up Aesthetics, Noise, Air Quality, Traffic – San Diego Union-Tribune – July 6, 2012

Related Harassment from the San Diego-Imperial Counties Central Labor Council

Labor Says ‘Living Wage’ Threatened at Convention Center – San Diego Union-Tribune – July 5, 2012