San Diego Ban on Project-Labor Agreements, Proposition A (June 2012)

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A San Diego Ban on Project-Labor Agreements Initiative, Proposition A was on the June 5, 2012 ballot for voters in the City of San Diego in San Diego County, where it was approved.[1][2]

Proposition A amends the San Diego Municipal Code to prohibit the City from requiring a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on City of San Diego construction projects, except where required by state or federal law, or as a condition of the receipt of state or federal funds.

Supporters of the initiative called it the Fair and Open Competition in Construction initiative.

San Diego County already had a ban in force against Project Labor Agreements, after having approved Proposition A on the November 2, 2010 ballot.[3]

On October 2, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 922.[4] This bill is an attempt to prevent California cities from banning government-mandated project labor agreements.[5]

Election results

Proposition A
Approveda Yes 134,724 58.09%
These final election results are from the San Diego County elections office.



The official ballot pamphlet arguments in favor of Proposition A were signed by:

  • Jim Ryan, Executive Vice President, Associated General Contractors of America, San Diego
  • Jacqui Gamboa-Gaano, Manager, San Diego Contractors & Builders
  • Cesar Jacobo, Construction Worker (Electrician)
  • Richard Rider, Citizen Taxpayer Advocate
  • Lani Lutar, President & CEO, San Diego County Taxpayers Association

Proposition A was endorsed by the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune, which said, "Proposition A would ban the city from requiring project labor agreements be used on construction projects, except when such bans would lead to the forfeiture of state or federal funding. PLAs dictate that governments follow costly, unnecessary union compensation practices and job rules. To try to intimidate voters in San Diego and elsewhere into voting against bans on PLAs, the union bullies who control Sacramento got a law passed that potentially could cost the city millions of dollars in state construction funds if Proposition A passes. The law, however, is legally suspect. But beyond that, enough is enough. It’s time someone stood up to Sacramento and illustrated that majority Democrats in the Legislature amount to puppets manipulated by their union masters. It’s disgraceful that Gov. Jerry Brown, who sometimes takes on unions, signed their bill into law."[6]

Arguments in favor

"Yes on Proposition A" logo

In the official ballot pamphlet, supporters of Proposition A made these arguments in favor of it:

  • "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."


About $775,000 was contributed to the campaign for a "yes" vote on Proposition A, along with an additional $323,000 in non-monetary contributions.[7]


"No on Proposition A" logo


The official ballot pamphlet arguments against Proposition A were signed by:

  • Matthew P. Caulfield, Major General, US Marine Corps (Ret)
  • Scott Barnett, President, San Diego Taxpayers Advocate
  • Shad Jefferies, J.D., Professor of Business & Real Estate Law
  • Donna Frye, Business Owner/Former Councilmember[8]

Arguments against

In the official ballot pamphlet, opponents of Proposition A made these arguments against it:

  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "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)."


About $1.18 million was contributed to the campaign for a "no" vote on Proposition A:[7]

Ballot text

The question on the ballot:

PROPOSITION A: "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?"[9]

Path to the ballot

Supporters of the initiative were required to collect over 94,000 signatures from registered voters of the city in 180 days in order to qualify the measure for the ballot.

In September 2011, election officials announced that supporters of the measure had collected enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot.[10]

See also

External links

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Additional reading: