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Another discrimination claim comes against school bond measure

Another discrimination claim was recently filed in connection with the San Diego Unified School District's Proposition S Project Stabilization Agreement.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed federal unfair labor practice charges on behalf of Wesley Fuller, a contractor from Brady Co., against four labor union organizations for establishing a “discriminatory union only construction scheme” with the School District.

The labor unions include the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, the Painters and Allied Trades District Council No. 36 and the Plasterers Union Local 200.

The claim, which was filed to the National Labor Relations Board, stated that “unions are coercing, threatening and restraining the Brady Company and similarly situated contractors that perform or would perform construction work in the San Diego area with the objective of forcing or requiring that Brady Company and these similarly situated employers to enter into agreements with the unions that are prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act.”

The claim also stated that “unions are causing and are attempting to cause employers that perform construction work in the San Diego area, including but not limited to the Brady Company, to not employ or provide work to employees who participate in or receive training through, nonunion apprenticeship programs on certain school construction projects in San Diego.”

According to Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, the unions are able to do this based on the Project Stabilization Agreement that was put in place.

Proposition S is a $2.1 billion school bond measure, which was passed by San Diego voters in November 2008 to repair and rebuild all of the district’s schools.

The Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA) was approved by the school district in May and was amended in July to add another union organization, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

The labor agreement is like a collective bargaining agreement, Gleason said, that states contractors will not strike or have a work stoppage provided that contractors enter into a union apprenticeship program if a contractor is not formally in a union.

“This PSA is a blank discrimination,” said Fuller, a journeyman with Brady for the past 10 years. “If I want to work on the Proposition S projects, I will have to join a union and go through the whole apprenticeship program and journeyman program again.”

Gleason added that California law requires all qualified contractors employee’s complete state-mandated apprenticeship programs, but that “it is illegal under federal law to discriminate against workers or businesses on account of union association.”

The PSA will go into effect Oct. 27 with the first project to be advertised that day, and the first project under the PSA will be awarded January 2010. This is not the first discrimination claim against the school district for the use of its project stabilization agreement.

Back on July 30 of this year, the Associated General Contractors filed a lawsuit at the federal level claiming discrimination as well. The case has been continued on the court’s own motion to Dec. 4.

Calls were made to all four union organizations were not returned by press time Tuesday.

The School District’s legal board said they knew of the situation, but Mark Bresee, legal spokesperson, was not available to comment.

The regional director at the National Labor Relations Board regional in San Diego will investigate the charges and determine whether to prosecute the unions before an administrative law judge or dismiss the case.

Although each case is different, typically the Relations Board will take a few weeks to review and make a decision.

Either way, each party can appeal the ruling of the Board to all the way to the Federal Courts of Appeal.

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1 UserComments
Tom Lemmon 8:29am October 14, 2009

The National Right to Work Committee keeps litigating the same legal issues over and over hoping it will work somewhere. It never does. They ignore clear Supreme Court authority on the PLA issue and are manufacturing “facts” that have not even had a chance to exist yet. No one could be discriminated against because no work under the PLA has even begun..”