Southwestern Community College District Governing Board Approves Negotiations for Another Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreement in San Diego County

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Tonight at the Crown Cove Aquatic Center in Coronado, the Governing Board of the Southwestern Community College District (based in Chula Vista) voted 4-1 for a resolution to negotiate a “Community Benefits Agreement” (aka Project Labor Agreement) with construction unions in the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council for projects funded by Proposition R, a $389 million bond measure approved by 71% of district voters in the November 2008 election. (The student representative also voted for the resolution.)

The ballot measure and arguments did NOT indicate possible consideration of a requirement for construction companies to sign a union agreement to work on Proposition R projects. See my earlier blog post about the Project Labor Agreement threat for Southwestern Community College District here.

The San Diego Union-Tribune published an editorial today (June 13, 2012) entitled “Southwestern College Risks Its Momentum” against the government-mandated Project Labor Agreement proposal. The Union-Tribune had endorsed Proposition R in 2008, noting in an October 18, 2008 editorial that “The untold story is of a community college that used its funds wisely from the Proposition AA bond issue of 2000. Every project from that bond issue has finished on time and under budget. That’s a testament to John Wilson, in charge of facilities planning…We do recommend a yes vote on Proposition R, Southwestern College bond issue.”

Subsequently, the college’s construction program became tangled in inappropriate and questionable practices concerning contract awards, resulting in indictments in January 2013.

It’s a shame that the governing board has proceeded with a plan to give construction trade unions a Project Labor Agreement at this sensitive time. Project Labor Agreements are routinely associated with fiscally irresponsible, mismanaged local governments with little accountability to the citizens they serve. Requiring construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of work smacks of favoritism and sends the wrong message.

The elected Governing Board voted as follows:

Up for Re-Election in November 2012

Jean Roesch – Seat 1 – NO

Humberto Peraza – Seat 3 – YES

Up for Re-Election in November 2014

Terri Valladolid – Seat 2 – YES

Norma L. Hernandez – Seat 4 – YES

Tim Nader – Seat 5 – YES


  1. amanaplanacanalpanama says:

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you can throw the winning bid to any contractor you choose simply by adding “value added” language into the bid specifications. The lowest responsible, responsive bidder acting under an airtight construction contract is the only way to insure that bidding is done awash in sunlight rather than dimly lit, smoke-filling back rooms.

  2. Carla Kirkwood says:

    Dear Dayton Policy Network,

    I am a senior faculty member at Southwestern College, I am union and I have problems with your article. It was a faculty member (myself) working in collaboration with a group of classified personnel (union as well) who did the research on these cases, contacted the DA in San Diego and then went to the new Board WE elected in November 2010 (with Union support) and TOLD THEM of the report to the DA. A meeting was held with two trustees where the DA information and identification of the corrupt administrators and previous Board members and construction reps was presented to these two members. They were given the brief and advised that (by me in particular) I had requested not only the investigation but also an in depth audit of the Prop R monies that had been spent and an audit of the college Foundation monies as well from the DA. Every indictment list the professor at Southwestern College as having provided the information NOT Board members. And now this Board (the new one supported in their election with Union money and labor) are intimidating all employees by saying if we do not vote to take a 5% cut they will start handing out “pink slips” to workers. Please be clear, to say that it was Board members that exposed this case is just looking at bosses again and crediting them with other people’s (union people’s) labor. Labor did this expose, met for months with the DA and has taken the heat (at least this professor) for having blown the whistle on this case. Also, a number of us had to press this Board for over a year to even get them to the table on the very weak PLA language we could squeeze out of them. REMEMBER, credit labor for its courage and work, not bosses.

  3. Kevin Dayton says:

    Dr. Kirkwood:

    I recognize your concern, and I am editing the article today (February 27, 2013) to make sure no one insinuates from it that any union participated in or condoned the alleged corruption. I see from a web search that you have a long history of trying to ensure honest, ethical government of Southwestern College. Thank you for your service to the people, especially students, college employees, and taxpayers.

    Kevin Dayton