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DeMaio pushes to ban living wage, local hiring requirements and more;

Hueso counters with local jobs ordinance

February 20, 2010 (San Diego) On Wednesday, San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio and the Associated General Contractors are trying to put an initiative on the ballot that would eliminate gains made by labor in recent years. On Wednesday, Councilman Ben Hueso will seek to counter those efforts by introducing a Local Jobs Ordinance that would make local job creation a priority on public works projects.


“Basically, all of the work that CPI and the Labor Movement have done over the past 10 years to promote living wages and middle-class jobs for local people in San Diego is in jeopardy,” says Stephanie Monroe, organizing director with the Center for Policy Initiatives.  Research by CPI found that poverty has risen 50% in San Diego County and that 29% of area residents are economically challenged--a number that CPI predicts will be higher once 2009 figures are analyzed.


DeMaio, who calls himself the “taxpayer’s watchdog, views the measure as needed to impose ” clear rules for open and fair contracting within city government,” he said at a news conference last fall,, flanked by non-union trade workers. (Read more:


If passed, the proposed November ballot initiative would amend the City charter to:

• Outlaw the City’s Living Wage, Worker Retention and Responsible Contractor Ordinances
• Ban local hiring, healthcare and job quality standards on public works projects
• Fast-track outsourcing of jobs by the City
• Ban collective bargaining on City construction projects
• Ban prevailing wages and apprenticeship utilization standards for City construction projects that receive no State or Federal money


Labor is fighting back with a Local Jobs Ordinance which Councilman Ben Hueso will introduce Wednesday at 9 a.m. before the City’s Rules Committee.

In a memo to Mayor Sanders and Councilmembers, Hueso noted that the San Diego region is experiencing historically high unemployment, with over 160,000 residents out of work in January. “Job creation is an immediate need and must be considered one of our highest priorities,” he wrote. “This year, the City will be spending over $400 million in public works projects supplemented by the flow of federal stimulus funds and statewide bond measures. The City of San Diego needs to take the leadership by ensuring that our investment in public works also creates local jobs.”


“This is a first step in uniting community and labor around a Living Wages and Local Jobs agenda that will beat back these initiatives and save (expand!) living wages and local jobs in San Diego,” said Monroe.


The contractors’ group is also pushing ballot initiatives in other areas of the County, including:

• City of Chula Vista (June 2010)—prohibits the City from using labor agreements that ensure middle class construction jobs with healthcare benefits and local hiring
• County of San Diego (Nov. 2010)—bans project labor agreements (PLAs) which require that public construction projects utilize contractors that hire union workers
• City of Oceanside (June 2010)—bans the payment of prevailing wages and the use of labor agreements and contracting standards (some of this is done explicitly and other parts are via becoming a “charter city”)


“Almost everything that our organization has built in the past 10 years is riding on this effort and the corresponding electoral fights in June and November,” said Monroe, who called the prospect “overwhelming.”


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