Tag Archive for San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council

Unions Earn Growing Reputation as Bob Filner Apologists – Will Voters Make Them Accountable?

In my August 6, 2013 www.UnionWatch.org article entitled Take the Filner Challenge: Advance the Union Political Agenda, I explain why an August 3, 2013 article in the UT San Diego newspaper can reasonably claim that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s “list of supporters has shrunk to just one major group – organized labor and its allies.” This UT San Diego article includes an ill-advised and now-notorious remark from Tom Lemmon, head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council:

It’s an awkward situation, but we have a lot invested in him. We believe in due process, so let it take its course.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that Tom Lemmon is hesitant to castigate Mayor Bob Filner, considering that Congressman Bob Filner inserted a very nice statement about him in the September 10, 2012 Congressional Record.

We need to congratulate Tom Lemmon for his many years of dedicated service to the organized labor movement in San Diego and to working men and women all across this great nation!

Looking at the larger perspective, union leaders know that San Diego will one day forget Bob Filner the sexually harassing mayor, but the legacy of Bob Filner the union mayor may persist for generations. Union leaders have chosen to be politically pragmatic rather than make a public judgment about what kind of person should serve the people of San Diego as the city’s chief executive.

Nevertheless, unions are being called out on their amoral stance. An August 4 post on www.Breibart.com cited the UT San Diego article: “Unions Stand By Filthy Filner, ‘Have a lot Invested in Him.‘” As of August 13, there were 131 comments about the article – many expressing the idea that birds of a feather flock together. The article was also circulated widely via social media, tainting the reputation of labor unions across the country.

By sticking with Filner, union leaders have given San Diego Republican leaders an opportunity to highlight the shortcomings of the region’s most politically powerful leftist coalition.

Double standards are apparent. I have noted on Twitter that the North Bay Labor Council and the Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino Building and Construction Trades Council are calling for the resignation of Sonoma County Supervisor and Democrat Efren Carrillo, who has been arrested twice in the past year under strange circumstances and apparently has a drinking problem. See the July 31, 2013 press release North Bay Labor Council & Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Building Trades Council Call For Supervisor Efren Carrillo to Resign.

Of course, a cynic would point out that union leaders in Sonoma County have detested Supervisor Carrillo since he refused to advance a proposed Project Labor Agreement policy for county projects. See my September 19, 2012 article Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Abandons Project Labor Agreement Policy; Instead Directs Staff to Negotiate Project Labor Agreement for Sonoma County Airport Expansion, which includes a series of heated tweets from Lisa Maldonado, the head of the North Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Maldonado has actually been relatively restrained on Twitter after Carrillo’s second arrest.

Shame on Unions! Put Women Ahead of Your "Investment!"- San Diego Mayor Bob FilnerNow flyers are circulating in San Diego to make union leaders accountable for their decision to stick by Mayor Bob Filner. Considering how leaders of these labor organizations have no shame in blocking high-profile construction projects using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to get Project Labor Agreements, I doubt they’ll change their position because of public outrage. It’s up to the Republican Party of San Diego County to remind voters where unions stand on Filner and urge voters to make a statement via their ballots in the 2014 and 2016 elections. In fact, the time may be right to qualify dramatic county and city ballot initiatives to end costly government policies and practices that benefit unions at the expense of everyone else.

San Diego Political Celebrity Nathan Fletcher Now Supports Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates

UPDATE – August 9, 2013: This morning Nathan Fletcher “chimed in” and spoke to Fox News 5 KSWB in San Diego about the Filner scandals. An excerpt from Fletcher May Run for Mayor if Filner Resigns:

Fletcher even told Fox5 that he’d consider throwing his hat in the ring if the mayor’s seat opens up.

“I’d have to consider it. I’ve been humbled by the number of folks that have reached out for the last few weeks and provided a lot of encouragement,” Fletcher said. “But as of right now, the office isn’t open. If it becomes open than that’s a decision that I’ll have to make.”

Until that happens, Fletcher can be found teaching at University of California, San Diego, working for Qualcomm and with his family.

Unexpectedly, former California State Assemblyman and once-and-future San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher (R) (I) (D) declared his new position in support of state-mandated wage rates (“prevailing wages”) for contracts on public works construction projects. See the July 26, 2013 San Diego Daily Transcript commentary Prevailing Wage: Good for Local Economy, Local Workers.

He claims his position is a “no-brainer” that resulted from approaching the issue in a “thoughtful, open-minded way.” But why did he approach the issue in the first place? Mr. Fletcher has never before exhibited extraordinary interest or unusual expertise in arcane construction labor issues, including as a state legislator voting on such issues.

Tom Lemmon – the head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – would have had credibility in submitting this professionally-written piece under his name. But few people would have read it. In contrast, Nathan Fletcher has a cult following in San Diego, apparently because many people can relate to his lack of principles – a condition that I warned Republicans to avoid in my www.FlashReport.org article Know Thyself, Republican: You Could Be the Next Nathan Fletcher.

Some people are suspicious of Fletcher’s authorship of his prevailing wage manifesto. On July 30, 2013, campaign consultant Duane Dichiara posted an article on San Diego Rostra – Notes on Fletcher’s Pro-Prevailing Wage Article – speculating that Fletcher didn’t write it because of the obvious rhetorical skill of the writer. Richard Rider of San Diego Tax Fighters then commented that “it’s TOO well written. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Nathan didn’t pen it. Doubtless it was written by labor union professionals (or their PR contractors), with Nathan dutifully signing it as the author.”

Regardless of who actually wrote it, representatives of www.SmartCitiesPrevail.org were quick to post comments in support of Mr. Fletcher and his position, and he received some impressive tweets of support.

I responded to Fletcher’s piece with a rebuttal published on July 29, 2013 entitled Did Nathan Fletcher Lose His Mind on Prevailing Wage? A representative of the union-oriented public policy organization Working Partnerships USA and a Colorado State University economics professor commented in response to defend their work as cited by Fletcher. I have commented in response to their comments. Meanwhile, Nathan Fletcher has not given the public any additional insight into his understanding or views on prevailing wage policies.

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 File Yet Another CEQA Lawsuit Against Proposed Hotel in San Diego: Fat City Hotel Is Latest Target

Excerpts from this article were included in my December 18, 2012 www.UnionWatch.org article UNITE HERE Becomes San Diego’s Leading Environmental Organization.

On behalf of San Diego-based UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30, the South San Francisco law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court on December 5, 2012 alleging that the City of San Diego, the San Diego Planning Commission, and the Centre City Development Corporation improperly approved the proposed Fat City Hotel Project.

First proposed publicly in March 2012, this project would be a two-tower, 364-room hotel in San Diego’s “Little Italy” district. Parties initially involved in this development were Frank Fat Properties LP and Jonathan Segal (an architect), but the parties now developing the project are FC Acquisition Company LLC, which includes T2 Development and GLJ Partners. (See Fat City Hotels Property Sold, New Developer Takes Over: T2 Development Reportedly Planning a Hilton HotelSan Diego Union-Tribune – August 28, 2012.)

As reported in the May 30, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune article Fat City Hotel Approved Over Labor Objections and in the July 26, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune article Fat City Hotels Project Wins Final OK: Planning Commission Denies Appeal from Hotel Workers, the hotel workers’ union has been pestering the hotel developers for a while:

The final opposition came from Unite Here Local 30, the local hotel workers union. There is no appeal from the commission vote.

Pamela N. Epstein, representing the union, said the project conflicted with city land-use plans, citing a maximum of hotel rooms that would be allowed in Little Italy where the site is located.

“Evidence does not support its designation as a resort hotel,” Epstein added.

But staff said the project complied with city rules and Commissioner Mary Lydon wondered why the union was involved, especially since new hotels mean new jobs.

“Why you brought this forward, to me, it’s a total miss,” Lydon said.

UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 claims that the project needs a project-specific Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Local agencies approved the project under the conclusion that the potential environmental impacts of this project were addressed in a 2006 “Program Environmental Impact Report” for future downtown redevelopment. See the San Diego Planning Commission staff report for the July 26, 2012 meeting concerning UNITE-HERE’s appeal of the Centre City Development Corporation’s approval of the project.

The appropriate question reporters and public officials need to ask UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30: will the union drop its lawsuit if the developers agree to a collective bargaining agreement with UNITE-HERE for hotel employees, along with some minor “environmental mitigation” to provide camouflage for the true purpose of the CEQA lawsuit?

In addition, is UNITE-HERE also asking the developers to require their contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council?

Where is the Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion? A Press Conference Outlining an Action Plan

Here’s the text of an email sent this afternoon (November 16, 2012) from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction outlining that group’s action plan in response to the Project Labor Agreement on the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase III.

Dear Kevin,

Yesterday the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction made it quite clear at a press conference that the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) “agreed” to by Clark Construction and the San Diego County Building Trades Council will not stand. Held in front of the San Diego Convention Center more than 100 workers, apprentices, and owners powerfully stood up for the rights of the 90% of the local construction workforce who are union-free and the 58% of San Diego voters who banned PLAs by passing Prop A in June.

Protest Against San Diego Convention Center Project Labor Agreement

Protest Against San Diego Convention Center Expansion Project Labor Agreement – November 15, 2012

As you can see here from these pictures and this video of the event a large and diverse group of men and women made it clear that they will not sit quietly by while back room deals are cut that discriminate against them, rip off taxpayers, and reward union extortion. This is exactly what unions and their enablers at the City, Port, and Clark Construction have sanctioned by allowing for a PLA on the $600+ million Convention Center Expansion that is due to break ground next year.

The event was covered by TV and print media including the U-T San Diego, San Diego Daily Transcript, KUSI and NBC 7 San Diego. The unions were also forced to send out this press release in response to our press conference.

At this press conference a clear list of demands and promises were presented that will be aggressively followed through on. They were:

Demand the PLA be Released:

This back room deal “agreed” to by local union bosses and Clark Construction must be made public immediately. This PLA not only violates the expressed will of the voters of San Diego, who on two separate occasions voted to ban PLAs, but it may in fact violate the law. In June 2012 voters in San Diego passed with 58% of the vote Prop. A which forbids these types of agreements. Where is the PLA?

See the People Vote on any Tax Increase:

CFEC agrees with Mayor-elect Bob Filner that the vehicle agreed to by local hoteliers to raise the funds needed to build this project requires a vote of the people. We will make sure that those pursuing this case in court have the resources needed to prevail at every level.

Legal Remedies:

CFEC will pursue any and all legal avenues possible regarding both the PLA itself as well as the coercive manner by which it was “agreed” to. Does the PLA violate Prop A? Was the PLA “agreed” to in a manner that violates the National Labor Relations Act? We will find out.

Union Environmental Extortion:

Local union bosses have used greenmail for 13 years to extort owners into signing PLAs on both public and private projects. CFEC will employ a comprehensive and professional campaign that exposes what greenmail is, who is funding it, who is enabling it, and what taxpayers and businesses can do about it.

The Enablers:

CFEC will expose and hold accountable those elected officials, contractors, and project owners who have allowed the unions to continue this reign of environmental extortion.

Our Methods

A full scale public relations and legal effort will be undertaken to see that this PLA does not stand and that the workers and taxpayers of San Diego are protected.

If you would like to learn how you can be a part of this wide-ranging effort please contact us today. It’s going to be one wild and enjoyable ride.

Yours in the fight for freedom,

Eric Christen, Executive Director

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

P.O. Box 1627, Poway, CA 92074

Phone (858) 633-6523, Fax (760) 690-4471

Email info@opencompca.com

Web www.opencompca.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/cfec_ca

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Obtains City of San Diego Settlement Agreements with Unions for Convention Center

Late yesterday afternoon, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office provided representatives of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction with three “settlement agreements” meant to end union environmental objections to the proposed Phase III expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. The Project Labor Agreement for construction has not been obtained yet.


Settlement Agreement – Building Trades Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012


Settlement Agreement – UNITE-HERE Union Local 30 – San Diego Convention Center – 2012


Settlement Agreement – Various Construction Trade Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012

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


ONE San Francisco Investment Banker Is Funding About 20% of the Yes on Proposition Z Campaign for San Diego Unified School District to Borrow $2.8 Billion Through Bond Sales

Ordinary taxpayers of San Diego! The so-called “One Percent” really, really wants you to take on $2.8 billion more in debt (plus interest) and pay it back with new taxes.

This debt is in addition to the $4.7 billion debt you already owe (see page 17 of this official statement) as a result of past bond sales by the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District. Remember when you approved the school board to borrow $1.51 billion through Proposition MM in 1999 and borrow $2.1 billion through Proposition S in 2008? See below.

Bond Measures for San Diego Unified School District

Authorized Bond Amount. Does Not Include Interest and Fees

Date of Election

Ballot Designation


$1.51 billion November 3, 1998 Proposition MM Approved by 78% of voters.
$2.1 billion November 4, 2008 Proposition S Approved by 69% of voters.
$3.61 billion Total from two bond measures from 1998 to the present.
$2.8 billion November 6, 2012 Approved for consideration by district voters through a resolution of the school board on July 24, 2012

Below, I’ve listed every contributor to the Yes on Proposition Z campaign through October 24, 2012 in order from biggest to smallest, including the latest reported “late contributions.” The total collected is $519,697.96, not including a $15,000 loan from Gafcon, which is also a $15,000 contributor and has a relationship with a $10,000 contributor, Sharepoint 360. I also do not include in-kind (non-monetary contributions) such as $4,626.91 from “A Better San Diego Issues Committee, A Sponsored Committee of The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO” and $19,050 from “Communications and Its Subsidiaries,” whatever that is!

You’ll see on the list how construction trade unions (and their affiliated labor-management cooperation committees) are eager to monopolize that $2.8 billion in future construction with their guaranteed Project Labor Agreement: they’ve contributed a total of $191,612.96.

Project Labor Agreement Policies for San Diego Unified School District

1999 Union officials unsuccessfully lobby the school board and district officials to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement for construction funded by Proposition MM.
May 26, 2009 Board votes 3-2 to approve a Project Labor Agreement for construction funded by Proposition S.
July 24, 2009 Board again votes 3-2 to approve a Project Labor Agreement for construction funded by Proposition S, replacing the first, defective agreement with a new agreement containing terms and conditions acceptable to the Carpenters Union.
July 24, 2012 July 24, 2012 – Board votes 5-0 for a resolution expanding the scope of the Project Labor Agreement to projects funded by future bond measures, thus imposing the Project Labor Agreement on projects funded by the proposed $2.8 billion bond measure on the November 6, 2012 ballot.

Architects and engineers have also generously contributed to the campaign, along with a few construction contractors. A few San Diego philanthropists and civic leaders have contributed, as well as one parent.

But note that the Yes on Prop Z committee reports $100,000 from the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Issues Committee (FPPC #1343062). This matches the $100,000 total contributed as indicated in the California Secretary of State records for the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Issues Committee. In addition, the California Charter Schools Association (not its Political Action Committee) contributed $7,500 to the committee on March 9, 2012. So the total from this group is actually $107,500, and that’s how I list it below.

In 2011 and 2012, the only monetary contributions received by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Issues Committee are four payments totaling $500,000 from John H. Scully and his wife Regina Scully. See the California Secretary of State’s record for contributions received in 2011-2012 by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Issues Committee.

In other words, about 20% of the $500,000+ campaign to convince San Diego voters to vote for Proposition Z and allow the San Diego Unified School District board of education to borrow another $2.8 billion for construction through bond sales is coming from ONE San Francisco investment banker.

Here is the complete list of contributions to Yes on Proposition Z, authorizing the board of education of the San Diego Unified School District to borrow $2.8 billion for construction by selling bonds to investors. (That money must be paid back, with interest, by taxpayers.)

California Charter Schools Association Charter schools/John Scully, investment banker $107,500
Irwin & Joan Jacobs Philanthropists $80,000
San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council Family Housing Corporation No. 1 Construction trade union – property owner $42,500
San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council Family Housing Corporation No. 2 Construction trade union – property owner $42,500
San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council Construction trade union $25,000
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union No. 569 Construction trade union $20,012.96
Gafcon Construction management $15,000
California Teachers Association Teachers’ union $14,000
Sharepoint 360 Information technology for construction (closely associated with Gafcon – see above) $10,000
Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local Union No. 206 Construction trade union $10,000
Southern California Pipe Trades Council #16 Construction trade union $10,000
Laborers Local Union No. 89 Construction trade union $10,000
Plumbers Local Union No. 230 Construction trade union $10,000
Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Construction trade union $10,000
San Diego Electrical Industry Labor Management Cooperation Committee Union-affiliated labor-management cooperation committee $10,000
PJHM Architects Architect – clients include K-12 school districts $10,000
Mike Kooyman – Executive with PCM3 Construction management $10,000
John R. (Jack) McGrory San Diego civic leader, real estate investor, former City Manager of San Diego $9,000
Barney & Barney Insurance and employee benefits $7,500
CPM Ltd. (dba Manpower of San Diego) Temporary employment $5,000
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe Bond counsel $5,000
KPI Architects Architect $5,000
CSDA Architects Architect $5,000
Harris & Associates Construction management/engineers $5,000
Mel Katz Manpower/Philanthropist $5,000
LPA, Inc. Architect $5,000
GKK Works Architect – clients include K-12 school districts $3,500
NTD Architecture Architect – clients include K-12 school districts $3,000
Borrego Solar Systems Construction contractor $3,000
Carl Schneider – Executive with SchneiderCM Construction management $2,500
Fieldman, Rolapp & Associates Bond broker $2,500
Fulbright & Jaworski Law firm; clients include local governments $2,500
Vanir Construction Management Construction management $2,000
BSE Engineering Engineering $1,250
IBI Group Architect/engineering $1,250
Operating Engineers Local Union No. 12 Construction trade union $1,000
Andy Berg –National Electrcal Contractors Association San Diego Chapter Unionized construction trade association $1,000
HMT Electric Construction contractor $1,000
Peter Spencer, executive with Audio Associates of San Diego Design and installation of audio/video systems $1,000
Frisco White, with Westberg + White Architect $1,000
Amy Redding Philanthropist/school volunteer/parent of SDUSD student $1,000
Burkett & Wong Engineers Engineering $1,000
Blue Coast Consulting Inspectors – clients include K-12 school districts $500
Vickie Fortie, executive with Turpin & Rattan Engineering Engineering $500
Tom Gaeto, executive with Construction Testing & Engineering Engineering $500
Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers Local Union No. 5 Construction trade union $500
Sylvia Avendano – executive with Owen Group Engineering $250
Johnson Consulting Engineers Engineering $250
Debra Preece – executive with Vector Resources Information technology – clients include K-12 school districts $250
Alison Whitelaw – executive with Platt/Whitelaw Architects Architect $250
Arthur Cantu, head of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union Local No. 36 Construction trade union $100
Not itemized $85
TOTAL $519,697.96

Sources: Campaign Finance Report through June 30, 2012; Campaign Finance Report through September 30, 2012; Campaign Finance Report through October 20, 2012; Late Contribution Reports: 10/22 #1, 10/22 #2, 10-24-1, 10/26, 10/29.

Finally, take a look at the list above and notice the incongruity with the claim of John Lee Evans, a school board member for the San Diego Unified School District, who was secure enough in his position before he voted for the Project Labor Agreement on May 26, 2009 to inform the business establishment in San Diego that their traditional role as responsible community leaders was coming to an end:

“I think the bigger picture that people are realizing – and this is what scares some people – is that San Diego is changing, the United States is changing…this is a different city…we are looking at a different community.”

Not really. The same crowd is still putting a little money into the democratic system in order to make a lot more money off of that same system, with ordinary citizens paying for it through taxes.

CEQA Greenmail Still Effective for Unions in San Diego: Just a Cost of Doing Business for Pragmatic Civic Leaders

The San Diego Daily Transcript business newspaper today (October 10, 2012) published an opinion piece from Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction entitled Unions Manipulate City Leaders with CEQA Threats.

In the commentary about union objections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, Christen contends that business, political, and community leaders in San Diego have essentially surrendered to the organizing agenda of union leaders. Unions and their lawyers have effectively exploited the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to block proposed projects until the developer signs a Project Labor Agreement for construction and a neutrality agreement leading to a collective bargaining agreement for the permanent workforce. Eric writes the following:

In San Diego, the city’s civic leaders regard union CEQA abuse as a customary part of doing business. Instead of exposing it and shaming the perpetrators, they say nothing publicly and surrender to it privately. Then they pass the costs to the taxpayers and consumers.

Why aren’t San Diego business, community and political leaders — other than Councilman Carl DeMaio — holding these union officials accountable for their CEQA extortion on the proposed Convention Center expansion? Why aren’t they highlighting this incident as an outrageous example of CEQA abuse?

Apparently America’s Finest City is fine with this “cost of doing business in San Diego.” What an outrage.

I’m guessing that civic leaders and big developers closely observed how Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment exposed and resisted the union environmental extortion in 2007 and 2008 against the proposed $1.2 billion Chula Vista Bayfront Hotel and Convention Center. The San Diego news media covered the story extensively, and ultimately it led to voters in the City of Chula Vista approving a ballot measure (Measure G) that prohibits the city from entering into contracts that require contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements.

Apparently, San Diego union leaders strategically determined that either Gaylord Entertainment would succumb to their demands to build and operate its facility exclusively with union workers, or Gaylord would never build it. After Gaylord Entertainment finally abandoned its plan to build the Chula Vista project and instead began construction of a facility in Mesa, Arizona, the Political Director/Organizer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 569 was proud, as she acknowledged to the now-defunct San Diego News Network in the July 6, 2009 profile Union Leader Badgley Shares Her Journey with IBEW 569:

Q: What accomplishment are you proud of?

A: Gaylord. We put a lot of resources into organizing the bay front in Chula Vista. It’s one of the last pieces of undeveloped land on the water, and we wanted something that was good for the environment and good for the workers. We worked with the environmental community, the trade show unions, the hotel and restaurant workers, and we tried to make sure that the project would be good for the environment and the workers. In some ways, I’ll take the blame. You have to respect the workers and the environment. We were asked, “Isn’t something better than nothing?” Our feeling is that if we build it right, we can build more.

(Nashville, Tenn.-based Gaylord Entertainment wanted to build a 1,500 room hotel and convention center on the Chula Vista bay front. In 2007, the company pulled out allegedly because it could not reach an agreement with labor unions. It then continued negotiating, and pulled out again a year later because it could not get financing.)

I believe we sent a strong message about the power and commitment of San Diego’s electrical workforce with the Gaylord campaign. We are committed to continue to make sure that whatever is built on the bayfront must create good, green, local careers.

Now we see San Diego developers and their community allies waving white flags, even as San Diego is close to having a free market-oriented mayor and a Republican city council majority, and even as voters in the County of San Diego and in the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, and El Cajon have expressed their views on union monopolies by prohibiting government-mandated Project Labor Agreements through ballot measures.

For example, an article today in the October 10, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune (Lane Field Hotels Approved by Port) reported that the Lane Field developers (Rob Lankford, architect John Portman & Associates and contractor Hensel Phelps) surrendered to union demands in order to get two proposed hotels approved and finally under construction:

Developers also avoided opposition from labor groups by agreeing to require union construction labor and welcome unionized workers at the finished hotels…But Trammer said underground parking could add nearly $18 million to the $115 million construction cost, roughly the same it will cost to use union labor.

So this is another Project Labor Agreement won by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council (costing the developers an extra $18 million), and another neutrality agreement won by UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 to be imposed on a hotel operator who hasn’t even been identified yet. Again outraged by another surrender to extortion, Eric Christen posted a comment in response to the article:

Once again we see that threats of environmental lawsuits filed by labor unions would have been used had not the owner of this project not agreed to use union labor. And this is not laid out by the writer more explicitly why? This same writer just covered the Port Commission meeting two weeks ago where the unions dropped 150 pages of comments via their lawyers on the Convention Center Expansion yet these two striking similar projects but totally different union responses are not connected here.

This of course follows a decade of unions pulling this greenmail starting with Petco Park to this current project, and of course chasing Gaylord out of the state was their crowning achievement.

This extortion that unions use on projects that do not agree to use union labor is astounding. The silence form (sic) developers and the press on this is equally astounding.

As outlined in the www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com article Lane Field in San Diego: UNITE-HERE Local 30 Doesn’t Like a Proposed Hotel, UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 had hired the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo to identify and submit substantial environmental objections to the project under CEQA.

And here is a THIRD example of union greenmail working its magic. A September 28, 2012 article in Voice of San Diego (U-T CEO Denies Threatening Port; New Email Emerges) revealed that developers who want to convert the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal into a new sports/entertainment complex are seeking input and advice from Tom Lemmon, the head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. The email was released by Lorena Gonzalez, the head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

These three examples from just the last three weeks show that labor unions have been able to use CEQA to control anything having to do with downtown project development in the City of San Diego, particularly within the Port of San Diego‘s jurisdiction. Giving into union CEQA extortion is indeed a “cost of doing business” in San Diego (and throughout California).

Is this surprising, knowing the nature of humanity? After all, paying people off to avoid unwanted artificially-placed obstacles has probably been a standard way of doing business in most places in most times throughout human history. This country is not particularly clean: the United States is only ranked 24th in 2011 on the Transparency International annual Corruption Perceptions Index, with corruption defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.”

California’s urban local governments near the coast are generally fiscally irresponsible, mismanaged, unaccountable, and governed by pragmatists (at best) or compulsive criminals (at worst). These are ripe conditions for unions, corporate entities, and other self-interested organizations to infect and pervert government and commerce. The republican (lower case “r”) structure of checks and balances in American government works haphazardly in these cities; in particular, citizens fail to fulfill their necessary duty of educated and informed democratic participation in the process of choosing representatives and setting policies.

Nevertheless, Eric Christen is committed to fighting this urban corruption as reflected in union CEQA greenmail, according to an email he sent on October 10, 2012:

What is frustrating for myself as someone who deals with this locally and statewide every day is that I get what unions are doing and why they are doing it. What I do not get is how on earth they can keep getting away with doing it without being held accountable by an inquisitive press that asks simple questions after seeing the obvious staring them in the face.

I can fight unions and their shameless abuse of the California environmental law. I can continue to educate and inform the public about this and get them to ban PLAs when we put it on the ballot. I can continue to educate the media about this abuse. But what I cannot do is write the stories or pose the questions that help educate taxpayers, voters and citizens about exactly what is going on.

Sorry Eric, looks like few people want to join you in exposing this racket. You’re putting abstract principles ahead of tangible financial self-gain. That’s not a popular proposition.

But here is some consolation: this appeasement to union extortion recalls a well-known quotation attributed to Vladimir Lenin (but probably spurious): “the capitalists will sell us the rope from which we’ll hang them.”

Some of the capitalists to be hung will die rich. A few courageous ones to be hung will die right.