Construction workers on a job site
Construction workers on a job site. Photo via Pixabay

 San Diego’s decade-long ban on the use of project labor agreements in municipal construction projects looks to be a thing of the past Wednesday.

Measure D on Tuesday’s ballot appeared to be heading for victory with a 13-point lead as of 9 a.m., although vote-counting was continuing Wednesday. The county Registrar of Voters estimates there were still 500,000 ballots to be counted.

“This is a great day for San Diego,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “For residents, it means we’ll be able to invest with confidence in building healthy, thriving neighborhoods. And it will mean our city can create thousands of good jobs for San Diegans, ensuring the workers building our city earn a middle-class wage with great benefits.”

The measure would repeal 2012’s Measure A, which prohibited the city from requiring contractors to enter into project labor agreements. Such agreements, often called PLAs, are collective bargaining agreements between contractors and labor organizations establishing the terms and conditions of employment for specific construction projects.

“The passage of Measure D means more money from Sacramento for our city’s infrastructure, and in addition creates some of the best jobs in the region,” Councilman Raul Campillo said. “I’m glad the voters have chosen to move us beyond the policy failures of the last decade, and now we can get the city moving forward.”

Proponents say lifting the ban would keep San Diego from losing out on state and federal infrastructure funds, as such funding is not allowed on local construction projects in cities prohibiting PLAs. Supporters say San Diego’s ineligibility to receive those funds leads to issues affecting public safety, such as poorly maintained roads that prevent emergency personnel from being able to quickly respond to critical incidents.

Opponents argue San Diego has not lost out on any funding since Measure A’s passage because it contains an exemption allowing PLAs on projects “when such bans would lead to the forfeiture of state or federal funding.”

They also argue the measure would discriminate against the majority of local construction workers because they are not union members. Opponents say such discrimination would also shut minority construction workers out of city projects because they are largely non-unionized.

Measure D has drawn endorsements from Democrats such as Rep. Scott Peters, Rep. Juan Vargas, and Gov. Gavin Newsom in a rare gubernatorial endorsement of a local measure.

Those opposed to Measure D include Abdur Rahim-Hameed, president of the National Black Contractors Association, Al Abdallah, COO of the Urban League of San Diego County, and City Councilman Chris Cate.

Measure D requires a simple majority for passage.

Updated at 4:59 p.m. Nov. 9, 2022

–City News Service