Unions Move One Step Closer in Chula Vista to Control of Southwestern Community College District’s $389 Million Proposition R Construction with Project Labor Agreement

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What will be California’s 45th educational district where contractors must sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions in order to work on construction? (Here’s the list of the 44 Project Labor Agreements used or in use for California K-12 school and community college district construction.) One candidate in the running for this shameful, costly, and discriminatory status is the Southwestern Community College District in Chula Vista.

Election results of Chula Vista’s Proposition G in June 2010 showed that the people of Chula Vista do not want their local governments to enter into contracts requiring companies to sign Project Labor Agreements. Nevertheless, the union-backed majority elected in November 2010 to the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board proceeded tonight (October 24, 2012) with its plan to impose a government-mandated union agreement before bidding begins for most work funded by $389 million in bond sales authorized by Proposition R.

On a 3-0 vote, the Southwestern College board approved up to $25,000 in Proposition R funds to hire the law firm of Atkinson, Adelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (San Diego office) to negotiate the Project Labor Agreement with union attorneys and officials on behalf of the college district.

Atkinson Andelson beat out The Solis Group as the other finalist for the Project Labor Agreement negotiation contract, out of six applicant firms that also included Dannis Woliver Kelley, Law Offices of Julia SylvaPadilla & Associates, and Orbach, Huff and Suarez. Next, the board wants to consider awarding a contract for a Project Labor Agreement administrator.

Voters in the Southwestern Community College District approved Proposition R with 71% of the vote in November 2008. Of course, they had no idea that a future college board would give monopoly control of the work to the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council.

The board also received a “Proposition R – Monthly Executive Update” that consistently spelled “Quality Assurance” as “Qualilty Assurance.” (Yes, this place is truly a ripe candidate for a Project Labor Agreement.) As of September 1, 2012, the college has spent $5,888,504 from Measure R bond sales on construction, out of a total of $15,045,522 spent. Considering there is still $374 million of authorized Proposition R funds to spend, along with many millions of dollars in potential state matching grants, and this is a huge guaranteed taxpayer-funded bonanza for construction trade unions (although not as huge as what the unions are getting at the San Diego Unified School District with the Project Labor Agreement for Proposition S work).

Here are the five people who signed the ballot argument for Proposition R in 2008. (No one submitted an argument against Proposition R.) They told voters “Whatever you do, find R on your ballot and vote YES.” Where are they now that the Southwestern Community College board is cutting competition and increasing costs with a Project Labor Agreement? Ask them!

  • David Bejarano – Chief, San Diego Police Department (Retired)
  • Ditas Yamane – President, National City Chamber of Commerce (successor: Jacqueline L. Reynoso)
  • Lisa Cohen – CEO, Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce
  • Peter S. Mabrey – Physician Relations Manager, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Chula Vista (He used to be on the Citizens’ Proposition R Bond Oversight Committee for the college district.)
  • Adrian Del Rio – Former Student Trustee Chair, San Diego County Unified Disaster Council

Also at the October 24 meeting, board members received a timeline from staff indicating the Project Labor Agreement would be in effect for construction at the Southwestern Community College District by May 2013.

Finally, the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board wants to remind you: “Call It a Community Benefits Agreement, NOT a Project Labor Agreement!!!!” (And please ignore that politically undesirable but more accurate “Project Labor Agreement” terminology used in our new contract with Atkinson, Andelson.)

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