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Voters Approve San Diego's Project Labor Agreement Ban Measure

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The city of San Diego's controversial Proposition A – a measure to ban the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) in public works projects not linked to federal or state funding – passed easily in Tuesday's election.

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For the next six months, “nothing will change except city-funded projects will not be subjected to forced PLAs and city contracts will start to be posted online,” says Jim Ryan, executive vice president of Associated General Contractors of San Diego.

But on Jan. 1, 2013, state Senate Bill 829, approved by the legislature in April, goes into effect and the state will then consider its role in funding projects in the city and will determine if Proposition A is indeed a blanket ban, which is not allowed in most cities.

SB 829 is a follow-up to SB 922, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in early October and does not require any city to enter into a PLA. In fact, by law charter cities have the legal ability to prohibit PLAs, but SB 922 says that if any entity (charter city or general law city) enacts a blanket ban on PLAs then that entity will not be entitled to receive any state construction dollars while the ban is in place, says the bill’s authors Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles). SB 829 gets rid of blanket bans altogether and was focused on San Diego’s Proposition A.

There are 108 cities (out of 478) in California that are charter cities. Nearby Chula Vista and Oceanside, both charter cities, banned PLAs, and San Diego County, a charter county, banned the use of PLAs on county-funded construction projects in 2010.

The city of San Diego received $36 million in state funding for projects in 2010 and $158 million last year.

“We would expect San Diego legislators to attempt to get the law repealed,” adds Ryan. “If they don’t, we are confident the San Diego city attorney will protect our city’s access to state construction dollars. No punitive law that punishes the citizens of one city in the state for something they voted in favor of has ever been enforced or upheld in our state’s history.”

A spokeswoman for San Diego’s city attorney, Jan Goldsmith, says, “At this point, we’re not ready to comment on Proposition A.”

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