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'PLAs have been anything but a benefit to the community'

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

The Merit Construction Alliance has long held that project labor agreements discriminate against non-union construction workers by mandating the use of only union labor. The non-union, or merit shop, workers include black and minority firms and employees.

The MCA has long admired the stance of Harry C. Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Read our last post to understand his opposition to PLAs. Now he is joined by Shane Harris, a San Diego activist, writing in the Times of San Diego.

"In 1986 the Black Contractors Association was founded in San Diego to break this cycle of discrimination. They fought to build their own apprenticeship program from the ground up — and have helped launch the careers of craft workers and company owners from their self-built headquarters on Imperial Avenue.

"Since 2009, the BCA has been under constant threat from Project Labor Agreements. These PLAs promise 'local hire' and outreach to minority neighborhoods, but the unions’ promises have always been empty. Starting with projects for the San Diego Unified School District, the result of PLAs has been anything but a benefit to the community. Local hire numbers went down as workers from the neighborhood were shut out from projects on their own streets: schools that their kids attended and that were paid for with their own tax dollars. The BCA’s apprenticeship enrollment has been devastated by this lack of opportunity.

"Now, the city of San Diego is listening to the same promises from these same labor unions as they try to repeal Proposition A – a measure put on the ballot in 2012 and passed by the people of San Diego to stop this discrimination. The deep-pocketed Building Trades Council, a lobbying group for construction unions, wants the City Council to undo the people’s vote and allow PLAs."



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