Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

In String of Letters to the Editor, Citizens Stand Up for Important Construction Measures on CA’s Ballot

Voters in California are taking to the pages of their local newspapers to tell editors about the non-stop misinformation campaign against ballot measures aimed at jump-starting the economy and protecting workers’ rights.

Most opposition to Measure Q (which supports a $348 bond for Solano Community College) and Measure J (which supports public transportation gains in Los Angeles) comes from Sacramento lobbyists and business interests who are known for union bashing. In the case of Measure Q, which approves a bond for $348 million to Solano Community College, the pages of many Bay Area papers have been flooded with claims of high cost to taxpayers, many alluding to falsities surrounding Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which do not apply to the measure. Vacaville resident Eric Franchimon explains this in his letter to The Reporter titled “Q brings good jobs”:

The authors who claim to be interested in our community are not. They are interested in attacking and intimidating elected officials.

They are from Roseville and Sacramento and would like to put fear in Solano County residents so that we won’t pass Measure Q.

Their reason? They seem to think that there is a Project Labor Agreement attached to this bond (there isn’t), and this is what they get paid for, to stop PLA’s.

These people have been opposing PLA’s for many years now and still use the same erroneous statements regarding added costs with the use of a PLA.

Who is funding these attacks? Noncompliant, fly-by-night contractors who would like to stop PLA’s so they can take advantage of public works and prevailing wage laws.

He concludes clearly:

Don’t let these outsiders influence our community with fear of PLA’s. Yes on Q = good-paying jobs.

These sentiments are echoed in the pages of the Times-Herald by Suisan City resident Angelo Cellini. In his letter, “Q’s good for Solano County,” he notes that the attack on PLAs is inorganic and follows the methodology of anti-union lobbyists.

Anti-union radicals who wrongly think slashing workers’ wages and benefits are the key to solving our economic woes, dishonestly attack PLAs, but their arguments fall apart in the face of reality.

A PLA is a risk-management tool, negotiated before work on a project begins, which generally includes a process to resolve disputes on a project, and a no-strike clause. It establishes the hours of work, wages, benefits and working conditions for the work force.

PLAs don’t, contrary to what the attackers say, discriminate against anyone. Legally, they can’t.

The radicals bought and paid for their own study to conclude that PLAs increased costs, but reputable economists debunked that study. Reputable studies prove the contrary. Cornell University concluded in 2009 that there is “no evidence to support claims that project labor agreements either limit the pool of bidders or drive up actual construction costs.”

Six hours South, in Los Angeles, voters will decide the fate of Measure J which aims to create jobs by investing in public transportation. Readers got a reality check last week from Occidental professor Peter Dreier who defends the measure and takes note of the unlikely legion of supporters the measure has rallied.

Measure J’s supporters include an unlikely coalition, including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and its regional affiliates; the LA County Federation of Labor, Unite HERE and many other labor unions; the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Lung Association, the League of Conservation Voters, Move LA, the LA County Bicycle Coalition, LA Voice, Pacoima Beautiful, the Southern California Association Non-Profit Housing, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News and other major papers, and a Who’s Who of elected officials from the Los Angeles region.

The plan is designed not only to help greater Los Angeles literally dig its way out of its recession but also to help improve the environment by getting more Angelenos out of their cars and into the region’s growing subway, light rail, and bus services.

Dreier notes that the passing of Measure J will have a long term positive effect on the region’s environment and economy.

If voters approve Measure J on Tuesday, the victory will be a testament to the creative thinking of local politicians, community, labor and environmental activists, and business leaders. They understand that with an unemployment rate of 11 percent in Los Angeles County, the local economy needs a jump-start. The paychecks for the construction workers who will be building the transit projects will be spent locally, having dramatic ripple effects on the entire regional economy, catalyzing jobs in many other sectors.

Both of these measures will have positive effects on local economies and workers. Kudos to these citizens for entering the debate when louder voices are trying to slow the long crawl out of recession for California.


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