Tom Lemmon, business manager of the San Diego Building and Construction Trades, published an opinion piece in the San Diego Source concerning Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Anti-worker groups in San Diego are attempting to get a PLA-ban on the 2012 ballot and have been accused of using misleading signature gathering tactics and intimidation to advance their cause. Below, an excerpt from Lemmon's op-ed which focuses mainly on the benefits of PLAs to communities and the underserved.
The value of PLAs goes far beyond financial savings due to economies of scale; the projects serve as fertile training grounds for preparing and training the skilled workers who will continue to build quality construction projects in San Diego. During the construction of the Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir, the Building Trades Council created a pre-apprenticeship program that trained at-risk youth, welfare to work recipients and others in basic building trades concepts. During the eight-week course, students upgraded their math skills, learned about work ethics and received assistance in applying for apprenticeship programs with the Building Trades’ affiliate training programs. Many of those pre-apprentices are journey-level workers today, supporting themselves and their families without the public assistance on which they once depended. These are high-quality jobs, with solid training, health benefits and fair wages. They provide career opportunities for young San Diegans, who can then reinvest their money in their families and their communities. These are the kind of strong middle-class jobs that have a positive ripple effect on the entire local economy.
The impact of PLAs is widespread and benefits the community far beyond just creating high-quality jobs. When workers have health insurance, for example, they and their families don’t use emergency rooms for basic health care as often, which saves money for everyone. Study after study confirms that local dollars earned by local workers stay within the local economy, providing a benefit to our community.