- A Fair and Open Competition provision that prohibits the city from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions.
- A provision that allows the city to establish its own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (“prevailing wages”) on purely municipal projects.
- A provision that establishes “paycheck protection” for city employees so they can proactively authorize union dues deductions used for political purposes.
Unions have been fighting this proposed charter aggressively. As I reported in an earlier post (California’s Voting Rights Act of 2001: A Weapon for Unions), the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California was among the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against the City of Escondido in December 2011 alleging that the city violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 by not having city council districts designed to elect more Latinos to the city council. (Demetrio Gomez v. City of Escondido, Case #37-2011-00060480-CU-CR-NC). Excerpts from union publications strongly suggest that this lawsuit was meant to serve as political leverage to change or derail the proposed charter.
In response, the City of Escondido asked the San Diego County Superior Court to dismiss the State Building Trades as a plaintiff because it obviously lacked standing to sue: see here. A judge ruled on March 16, 2012 (Superior Court Decision – Gomez v. City of Escondido) that the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California did NOT have standing to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit. The lawsuit carried on with the other plaintiffs.
Notice that Article 3 of the final version of the proposed charter now contains language establishing district elections. Section 305 would return the city to at-large elections if the California Voting Rights Act is repealed by the legislature or invalidated by a court. Section 303 requires members of the city council to be citizens of the United States. (This was cynical, but shrewd – I predict that one day a court or the California State Legislature will allow non-citizens to vote in some California elections and hold some state and local offices.)
Tonight, the head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council was not at the Escondido City Council meeting – he’s at the Governing Board meeting for the Southwestern Community College District, where a pro-union majority will be voting on a resolution to authorize negotiations with the unions for a Project Labor Agreement. I’m expecting some additional creative actions from the unions to try to derail this proposed charter, though.
ATTENTION Anti-Charter Conspiracy Theorists: I made a scheduled presentation before the Escondido City Council on September 28, 2011 regarding provisions concerning state-mandated construction wage rates (“prevailing wages”). See my September 29, 2011 blog post here on www.theTruthaboutPLAs.com and “Charter City Forum Features Name-Calling, Emotional Outbursts” – North County Times – September 29, 2011.) At that meeting, I also responded to allegations made during the scheduled union presentation about government-mandated Project Labor Agreements that construction contractors must sign with unions.