Voters to decide on controversial ballot measures

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego voters on Tuesday will decide whether to approve
two labor-related ballot measures that have drawn intense opposition from area

Proposition A would bar the city from requiring Project Labor Agreements
on municipal construction contracts. Proposition B would close the city's
debt-ridden pension system to most new employees.

“Props. A and B will strengthen the city's financial footing, preserve
core city services and ensure the city remains the preferred location for
families to live and for companies to do business,” said T.J. Zane, president
and CEO of The Lincoln Club of San Diego County.

Supporters of Proposition A believe PLAs squeeze out nonunion
contractors and force up prices on big projects. The state Legislature in the
past year enacted a pair of laws that forbid the state from financing capital
improvements in jurisdictions where PLAs are banned.

Former Councilwoman Donna Frye said several state officials have warned
that San Diego could lose out on millions of dollars if the measure passes.

“Prop A is huge gamble with taxpayer dollars, puts San Diego taxpayers
at a financial disadvantage compared to other cities and has no clear benefits
for city contracting,” Frye said.

According to a legal analysis by the City Attorney's Office, the ballot
measure includes exceptions that allow PLAs if required by the state or federal
governments, or if needed to receive state or federal funding — making the
impact of its passage uncertain.

If Proposition B passes, new city employees other than police officers
would be given 401(k)-type retirement plans instead of being enrolled in the
pension system. Also, only base salary over the next five years would be
calculated into a worker's eventual retirement pay.

Supporters, including Mayor Jerry Sanders, Councilman and mayoral
candidate Carl DeMaio and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and
critics have squabbled over the financial impact on the city.

Backers say it could save somewhere close to $1 billion over the next 30
years because it slows down the growth of pension payouts. Those against the
measure say it discriminates against city workers and will cost the city more
money in the short run.

“Prop B simply leaves city workers with no pension, no Social Security,
no reliable retirement,” said Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego and
Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Of the mayoral candidates, only Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, is against
the proposition. He said its provisions will get tied up in court for years,
so even if it passes, it will be a long time before it is implemented.

Legal challenges have already been mounted against Proposition B, but
multiple judges have ruled the voters should weigh in before the substantive
issues are litigated. A hearing on legal action brought by the state Public
Employment Relations Board is scheduled for June 22.


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