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San Diego School Board Approves $2.1 Billion Project Stabilization Agreement

Union Yes Federal Credit Union
Union Yes Federal Credit Union

After hearing overwhelming support from hundreds of workers, community members, clergy, and experts, the San Diego Unified School District board of trustees on May 26 voted 3-2 for a Project Stabilization Agreement, or Project Labor Agreement, for $2.1 billion in school construction, retrofitting and modernization projects.

The agreement ensures that the work will be done by skilled union workers, receiving good wages and health benefits. The agreement also provides for local hiring requirements, provisions benefiting returning military veterans, and joint labor-management apprenticeship programs.

Trustees Sheila Jackson, Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans cast votes in favor of the agreement. Local hire was the centerpiece of the agreement, with as much as 70 percent of work going to workers within the district’s boundaries. Workers residing within inner-city zip codes will have first crack at the jobs.

Barrera, a local union organizer by day, described the agreement as “a shot in the arm to San Diegans, and their families and kids.”

San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council Business Manager Tom Lemmon said the overwhelming show of community support and union solidarity proved too powerful for opponents, mainly anti-union contractors, to overcome.

Also in attendance to support the agreement were members of other political, environmental, religious, and community groups.

The anti-worker San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the vote was “seen by many as a coup for the working class.”

The agreement covers projects of $1 million or more, where three or more companies bid. The funds, approved by voters through November’s Proposition S, will cover approximately 200 projects within the region’s largest district.

Return to the Labor Leader - June issue.