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  • April 3, 2019

Fear of Union Political Power at the San Diego Airport Authority


The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is scared. Scared of what a union-backed California state legislator will do to the agency if they don't give unions control of contracts at the airport.

On April 4, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority board of directors is scheduled to vote on a resolution requiring construction companies to enter into Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of working on Airport Development Plan Projects., including the planned expansion and modernization of Terminal 1. A brief staff report was submitted late to the board, and to quote one person who saw it, "There isn’t even a pretense of objectivity there."

In 2009, unions tried to get the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority board to require contractors to sign a union Project Labor Agreement for the planned $500 million expansion and modernization of Terminal 2.  A presentation and workshop about Project Labor Agreements was made at the May 20, 2009, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Executive Committee meeting, and further discussion for action was referred to the full San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board for discussion and direction to staff at its June 4, 2009 meeting. See the staff report and presentation here: BOARD DISCUSSION AND DIRECTION TO STAFF REGARDING THE POSSIBLE IMPLEMENTATION OF A PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT FOR THE TERMINAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. It was a thorough, comprehensive report.

At the June 4, 2009 meeting, the airport board discussed Project Labor Agreements but did not vote for any action concerning them. The board chairman announced that there was no request for a Project Labor Agreement and the Terminal Two project would proceed without a one. Fair and open bid competition and freedom of choice in training programs were preserved for this major construction project. It was a setback for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO and its CEO and Secretary-Treasurer, Lorena Gonzalez.

Ten years later, California and the San Diego region are different places. Democratic socialism is ascendant at the state and local levels of California government. The middle class is fleeing the state and the San Diego region. And Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (married to a former conservative Republican legislator in 2009 who is now a leftist Democrat county supervisor in 2019) is working in the California State Legislature to put the airport under the control of the Port of San Diego, where unions can more easily exercise their power.

And in addition to the threat of having the Airport Authority absorbed into another agency, the Airport is dealing with a threat from unions to hold up the Terminal 1 project with objections to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). See Laborers (LIUNA) Union Local 89 objections to the Draft Environmental Impact Report.

If the unions get their way on April 4, no one will pick up a tool at the airport without paying union dues and fees and having earned fringe benefits paid to union-affiliated trust funds, including underfunded pension programs.

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