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Ensuring fair and open competition for County contracts

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a recommendation from Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn on Feb. 23 to adopt an ordinance that bans Project Labor Agreements in County contracts beyond what the state and federal government mandate.

A Project Labor Agreement, commonly referred to as a “PLA”, is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement to use union labor on a project. When required, it eliminates the ability for non-union companies and workers to compete for, and work on government projects. When required by federal, state, or local governments, PLA’s discriminate against approximately 85% of construction workers and reduce competition to only those contractors who use union labor.

Supervisor Horn said, “The people of our county expect us to guard taxpayer dollars and one way is to protect open competition for construction work on county contracts.” Horn added, “Reducing competition for government contracts causes bids to come in higher, which drives up the cost to build government projects and squanders precious tax dollars. All qualified contractors and workers deserve the chance to compete for contracts and jobs that their own tax dollars pay for.”

Supervisor Horn said, “This Board has been on the cutting edge of improving government services by increasing efficiency of County employees and using the private sector. I think we owe it to the taxpayers to formalize some of the practices we use to save the County millions.”

In the last 12 months, the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, and the County of Orange have all taken steps to reduce or eliminate requirements to use the PLA.

Today’s ordinance requires a second reading March 2, 2010, and the ordinance would take effect thirty days later. The Board also directed the Chief Administrative Officer to return to the Board in 180 days with a report on County contracting, competition and privatization including practices that could be formalized by policy, ordinance, or reconsideration for putting an initiative on the November ballot for voter approval.


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