January 11, 2008

Group supports “equal opportunity” for CV bayfront project

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

A coalition of local trade associations, builders, contractors, and workers, are urging the Chula Vista City Council to adopt an ordinance that the coalition said will “promote competition and equal opportunity” in the construction of a hotel and convention center on the Chula Vista bayfront.

The Build the Bayfront Coalition held a press conference on Tuesday, January 8, in of the Chula Vista City Hall to highlight details of the Open Competition and Anti-Discrimination Ordinance for the City of Chula Vista.

The ordinance states that only projects that allow both union and non-union construction workers and contractors to work will be eligible for public funding.

The ordinance refers to Gaylord Entertainment plans to build a $1 billion hotel and convention center complex on the Chula Vista bayfront. The company refused to sign an agreement that would require construction workers involved in the project to be union members.


Artist rendering of the Chula Vista bayfront project that would include a hotel and convention center.

The Build the Bayfront Coalition also presented results from its recent survey of local registered voters, including union households, on the Gaylord-Bayfront Development Project and the need for an ordinance that will ensure fair and open competition for all public project construction workers – whether union or non-union.

Build the Bayfront Coalition spokesman Eric Christen said that “We look forward to this fantastic opportunity to present a democratic solution that will resolve the Gaylord dispute once and for all by ensuring fair and open competition for all workers – whether union or non-union – on any publicly funded construction project. This is not about singling out any one group or entity – this is about ensuring equal opportunity for all the people of Chula Vista.”

Christen said that the coalition’s mission is to raise awareness of a tactic they call “greenmail” – a strategy in which unions cite the California Environmental Quality Act to block projects without labor agreements.

La Prensa San Diego: Why is it important for Chula Vistans to have an Open Competition & Anti-Discrimination Ordinance?

Eric Christen: An Open Competition and Anti-Discrimination Ordinance will ensure that all publicly funded construction projects remain open to all local workers – whether union or non-union.  By promoting competition and equal opportunity, this ordinance will reduce overall project costs.  On a project like the Gaylord-Bayfront Development, for example, this ordinance will save tax dollars, generate millions of dollars in revenue, and create thousands of new jobs.   

La Prensa San Diego: Why should Chula Vistans support it?

Eric Christen: To protect local taxpayers by ensuring equal opportunity for all workers, whether union or non-union, increasing competition, generating revenue, and creating jobs. According to our polling information, 70% of Chula Vistans agree that “the City should only fund construction projects which allow both union and non-union workers to participate” is a good idea.

La Prensa San Diego: What’s your take on what you call “greenmail” from the unions?

Eric Christen: Union leaders use “greenmail,” an insidious extortion tactic involving the abuse of the environmental regulatory process to force builders to either acquiesce to their demands – typically a union-only Project Labor Agreement – or face the exorbitant costs of not only unnecessary delay, but frivolous litigation. 

La Prensa San Diego: What’s the Build the Bayfront Coalition’s stand on the environmental concerns that have been raised about the project?

Eric Christen: The Build the Bayfront Coalition seeks a clean, safe Bayfront that will save tax dollars, generate millions of dollars in revenue, and create thousands of new jobs.  The Build the Bayfront Coalition believes that environmental concerns are best addressed through a regulatory process free of abuse by those pursuing irrelevant political agendas.

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