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.
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.
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:
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