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Smart Voter
San Diego County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Proposition A
Prohibits the City from Requiring Project Labor Agreements on City Construction Projects
City of San Diego

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 134,724 / 58.1% Yes votes ...... 97,209 / 41.9% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Information shown below: Fiscal Impact | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Should the City of San Diego be prohibited from requiring contractors to use Project Labor Agreements for City construction projects, except where required by law, and should the Mayor be required to post online all construction contracts over $25,000?

Fiscal Impact:
The ballot measure states that except as required by State or federal contracting or procurement obligation, or as a condition of the receipt of State or federal funds, the City shall not require a contractor on a construction project to participate in a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) as a contract condition. It is uncertain whether the City would lose State assistance for City construction projects as a result of voter approval of this ballot measure. California Public Contract Code, Section 2502 prescribes that if a governing body, such as the City Council, is prohibited from considering a PLA for a City construction project, then State funding or financial assistance shall not be used for the project.

A legal interpretation of Section 2502 would be required to determine whether the City's receipt of State funds for construction projects will be affected by the ballot measure. State funding for the City varies from year to year. Major State funding awarded to the City in in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 was approximately $36 million and $158 million respectively.

The requirement of the ballot measure to post the text of all construction project contracts over $25,000 in a given year (including redacting proprietary information and presenting certain other information) is preliminarily estimated to cost $450,000 annually, in addition to $500,000 in set-up costs.

Whether the use of a PLA on a construction project would add to the cost of a project is a widely debated matter. Some studies indicate that PLAs increase project costs, while others dispute the analysis and the conclusions of such studies.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
This proposition would amend the San Diego Municipal Code to prohibit the City from requiring a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on City construction projects, except where required by state or federal law as a contracting or procurement obligation, or as a condition of the receipt of state or federal funds. This proposition would affect projects that are paid for "in whole or in part out of City funds." It would affect such projects involving "the construction, rehabilitation, alteration, conversion, extension, maintenance, repair, replacement or improvement of any structures or real property."

A PLA is generally defined as a collective bargaining agreement between a contractor and a labor organization setting terms and conditions of employment for a given project. PLAs can cover a variety of terms, and may address issues such as strikes, lockouts and similar disruptions, as well as wages and benefits.

If the proposition passes, the City could not require a Contractor on a construction project to enter into a PLA "as a condition of bidding, negotiating, awarding or the performing of a contract" for City construction projects unless an exception applies.

One exception would allow the City to require a PLA on a given project if required by state or federal law as a contracting or procurement obligation.

Another exception would allow the City to require a PLA on a given project if a PLA is required as a condition of the project's receipt of state or federal funds.

A new California law, effective after signatures were gathered for this ballot measure, affects funding of municipal project if consideration of a PLA is prohibited. The law, California Public Contract Code section 2502, states: "If a Charter provision, initiative, or agreement that includes all the taxpayer protection provisions of Section 2500 for a project to be awarded by the city, or prohibits the governing board from considering whether to allocate funds to a city-funded project covered by such an agreement, then state funding or financial assistance shall not be used to support that project."

As of the deadline for publication, it is unclear whether the proposition, if approved, would affect future state funding of City construction projects. It will be up to the California Attorney General, and possible the courts, to determine whether state funding will be affected for City construction projects.

The proposition would not restrict contractors and labor organizations from voluntarily entering into PLAs.

The proposition also would require the Mayor to post online all City construction contracts valued at more than $25,000 in a given fiscal year.

The proposition can be amended or repealed by a majority vote of City voters, but cannot be amended or repealed by the City Council.

  News and Analysis

UT San Diego

Voice of San Diego KPBS East County Magazine Partisan Information

Yes on Prop. A: It's awesome
published in the UT San Diego 5/12/12

No on Prop. A: It's awful
published in the UT San Diego 5/12/12

Yes on A Campaign
Find out more at the website of the Yes on A campaign

No on A
Stop Prop A
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Arguments For Proposition A Arguments Against Proposition A
Proposition A will enact the FAIR AND OPEN COMPETITION in Construction Ordinance. This reform package brings Fairness, Openness, and Accountability to City Contracting.

Proposition A is FAIR because it gives all construction workers - union and non-union - an equal opportunity to compete for jobs on city construction projects. It prevents politicians from imposing unfair project labor agreements on these projects. Construction workers will not be forced to affiliate with a union to work on taxpayer-funded city projects.

Proposition A makes contracting OPEN and transparent because it mandates that City construction contracts be posted online in a searchable format for easy public access. These reforms will ensure transparency and help citizen watchdogs and the press monitor City Hall.

Proposition A makes city government more ACCOUNTABLE because it requires the Mayor to explain online why any sole source contract was awarded without competitive bidding. This measure shines a bright light on the City contracting process.

Proposition A is your opportunity to reform your Charter City's municipal contract policy to efficiently manage your municipal construction services. FAIR AND OPEN COMPETITION SAVES TAXPAYER DOLLARS. National University System's Institute for Policy Research confirmed construction costs are 13 to 15% higher when school districts construct a school under a project labor agreement.

Proposition A was written to protect the City's access to state construction funds. Beware of the Sacramento politicians' scare tactics. Why are they afraid of fair and open construction contracts posted online in a transparent process?

Please join the San Diego County Taxpayer's Association, the Associated General Contractors of San Diego who represent both union and non-union contractors, and citizens who want a transparent and accountable city government.

You can learn more at Thank you for considering our views on this important package of reforms.

Please Vote Yes on A.

Executive Vice President
Associated General Contractors
of America, San Diego
Manager, San Diego
Contractors & Builders
Construction Worker (Electrician)
Citizen Taxpayer Advocate
President & CEO
San Diego County Taxpayers Association

There are serious implications to Prop A. Read the law.

1. California Public Contract Code Section 2500 already requires that Project Labor Agreements be "fair and open."

    Specifically Section 2500 states:
  • PLAs must allow both union and non-union contractors to compete.

  • PLAs must prohibit discrimination of any kind (including discrimination based upon non-union or union membership).

  • PLAs require drug testing of workers.

2. Prop As prohibition of PLAs could cost the City hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • Specifically, CPC Code 2502 provides that if a City prohibits its council from considering PLAs the city shall be disqualified from state construction funding.

  • According to the Independent Budget Analyst, the City received $158 million in state construction funding in 2011.

  • Prop A unnecessarily risks the loss of these funds without providing any taxpayer benefit.

IBA analysis, see last page


3. PLAs are NOT mandatory in San Diego. They are an option that can provide important additional taxpayer protections.

  • PLAs are an effective risk management tool used by both private and public sector managers to control construction costs on large projects.
  • PLAs are critical tools for assisting veterans re-entering the civilian workforce.

4. Prop As Internet Posting language actually reduces transparency.

  • City policy already requires the posting of all contract details on the Internet. Prop A requires the deletion of selected company information at taxpayer expense (see Independent Budget Analysis).
IBA cost analysis, see last page at:

Current Policy

We have carefully read the law and Prop "A". We recommend a "NO" vote on Prop A.

Major General, US Marine Corps (Ret)
President, San Diego
Taxpayers Advocate
Professor of Business &
Real Estate Law
Business Owner/Former

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Created: July 26, 2012 13:01 PDT
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