Safeguard San Diego


What is a Project Labor Agreement?

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) set terms for construction projects, including wages, benefits, and workplace safety rules. Studies in California, New York, Utah and other locations have found that PLAs keep projects on time and on budget, without reducing the number of bidders or increasing costs. PLAs are used across California, from Chula Vista to Eureka and everywhere in between for public and private projects.

Will the state really cut off funding?

The conflict between city and state law has already cost San Diegans an estimated $130 million and slowed our efforts to secure our local water supply. In 2018, contractors sued the city, claiming that apprenticeship requirements in the Pure Water contract violated the PLA ban. The state froze funding for 18 months, until legislation sponsored by then-Assemblyman Todd Gloria resolved the lawsuit. But the delay raised the cost of Pure Water Phase I by an estimated $130 million, which will eventually be passed along to San Diego residents in the form of higher rates.

Now, the same contractors whose lawsuit cost us $130 million want you to believe the state will never enforce the law. It’s a risk we simply can’t afford to take—especially when it costs the city nothing to remove any doubt and safeguard our future.

Where does the money come from, and what is it used for?

State infrastructure funding comes from state taxes paid by San Diegans. It’s our tax money, reinvested in our city.

This funding directly supports projects big and small in our community. Here are some projects that received state funding in 2021 and 2022:

While the money is targeted to specific projects, the funding matters for every city infrastructure project. If the state restricts or cuts off funding, San Diego will have to make difficult decisions about which improvements to fund, and which have to wait.

How much state funding do we really get?

In fiscal years 2021 and 2022, the state returned $820,401,360 to San Diego for infrastructure needs. City Council recently put forward a 5-year capital budget plan to invest $8.4 billion in our neighborhoods, but only $4.1 billion of that is covered by city funds. We’re counting on the state and federal governments to fill the gap. The plan invests in: road and sewer maintenance; stormwater upgrades; bike infrastructure; lifeguard, fire and police stations; erosion control on our beaches and cliffs; protecting our water supply, and much more. We can’t afford any question about whether our city is eligible for state funding.

How do PLAs help local workers?

Right now, contractors often bring in out-of-state workers who they pay sub-standard wages and few benefits. In addition to setting fair wages and benefits, PLAs for public projects typically prioritize hiring for local workers, especially disadvantaged groups. Veterans, in particular, benefit from PLAs. San Diego has the second-highest veteran unemployment rate in the country, and one in eight people experiencing homelessness in San Diego is a veteran. Cities around California use PLAs to set goals and requirements for hiring and training veterans, lifting thousands of our service members into the middle class. California law prevents employers from considering race, gender and ethnicity in hiring, but by prioritizing local workers who are living below the poverty line, single parents and other economically disadvantaged workers, PLAs often create life-changing opportunity in the skilled trades for women and people of color as well.

Are PLAs unfair?

No. PLAs make city projects more fair by setting clear rules that everyone has to follow. For example, PLAs require contractors to provide fair wages and benefits for all workers on a project. No worker is prevented from working on a PLA-governed project, and all contractors have a fair shot to bid for work on city projects. Without the option to use PLAs, the city has no way to hold contractors accountable for paying substandard wages or passing over local workers and bringing lower-paid workers from out-of-state.

Who is opposed to Measure D?

The same contractors and developers who pushed the ban through in 2012 want to keep it in place. Why? The ban means bigger profits. Right now, many contractors bring in out-of-state workers and pay local workers the lowest wages they can get away with. If we lift the ban and the city chooses to use PLAs, wealthy contractors will be required to prioritize local workers and pay higher wages and benefits. That cuts into their profits. Big contractors are writing six-figure checks so they can keep ripping off workers and enriching themselves. Don’t let them fool you.

Can I read more?

Yes! According to the City of San Diego’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, without Measure D, San Diego may be exposed to the loss of State funds for construction projects.

You may also read the argument in favor of Measure D that appears on your ballot.

And you can read the full text of the measure here.