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The executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, which represents non-union construction workers, will show up at the Coastal Commission hearing today to try to show how unions abuse the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to win a project labor agreement that gives them sweetheart contracts.

Unions' initial environmental complaints about expansion plans are an example, Eric Christen, head of the non-union group, says. Both the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, and UNITE HERE Local 30, which represents hotel and restaurant workers, filed numerous supposedly environmental objections to the convention center expansion project. Bingo! The unions got a project labor agreement from the contractor giving them extremely generous terms, and they dropped their objections.

This goes on all the time. "This abuse of CEQA must be exposed," says Christen. "This process is utterly corrupt through and through and is nothing more than a scam designed to enrich a few while sticking it to the vast majority of citizens, taxpayers, and workers of San Diego."

Amen, but Christen may not get a chance to tell that to the Coastal Commission, which has other fish to fry. However, Christen is right: it is important for San Diegans to know how this scam works.

The last time I talked with Christen, he said his group was about to reach a settlement. That raises questions, too.

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Comments

Dennis Oct. 10, 2013 @ 1:20 p.m.

Don, is there any evidence that developers would reduce the cost of an expansion of a convention center, library, football stadium if non-union labor was used? I suspect that any difference would just be added to the profit margins of the developers. This is what we see when manufacturing is offshored. Since we don't have access to their books it's impossible to tell.

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Don Bauder Oct. 10, 2013 @ 1:55 p.m.

Dennis: I think you are on the right track. If non-union labor were cheaper, construction companies would keep the amount they saved to fatten their bottom lines, and not cut the price. Best, Don Bauder

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Dennis Oct. 10, 2013 @ 2:17 p.m.

If that is the case then unions are justified in pursuing labor agreements that help their members. That is their reason for existing.

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Don Bauder Oct. 10, 2013 @ 2:31 p.m.

Dennis: You can't blame the unions for trying to get project labor agreements. But you CAN blame both the unions and the construction companies, along with the downtown establishment and the politicians, when the project is a scam that should be financed with private capital. It's the unions' use of political clout, along with the corporate welfare crowd's use of it, that is objectionable. Best, Don Bauder

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Dennis Oct. 10, 2013 @ 2:58 p.m.

I agree that these projects should be paid for with private capital.

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Don Bauder Oct. 10, 2013 @ 3:42 p.m.

Dennis: But those with private capital won't come in if they know that they can hornswoggle taxpayers into picking up the tab. Best, Don Bauder

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