Commentary: Measure V would level the playing field


As a Costa Mesa resident and homeowner, I’m voting Yes on V, the Costa Mesa city charter on Tuesday for one simple reason: Fairness is a basic American value.

And keeping non-union construction workers from being able to even compete for work on taxpayer paid projects is worse than unfair. It is unfair and expensive.

Yet local politicians on the right and left occasionally think that giving away taxpayer-funded construction projects to their friends in big labor unions is the path to higher office.


“You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours, and we’ll both meet on easy street,” seems to be the attitude of many so-called public servants.

The only losers are taxpayers, our kids, our communities and any working families who depend on a non-union construction worker.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 14% of the 2011 U.S. private construction workforce belongs to a union.

This election cycle the Associated Builders and Contractors, a national association representing more than 22,000 non-union construction firms, is trying to add a sense of fairness back into that political equation by highlighting these special interest deals.

Unfortunately, there are so many of these discriminatory union-only labor deals that only a select group can be highlighted to the level that the general public becomes aware of the costs. At ABC Southern California, the focus has been placed on helping local leaders who want to take control of their city finances and throw off the yoke of regulation placed on them by out-of-touch politicians in Sacramento.

The best way to do this is to pass a city constitution, or charter, to ensure open and fair competition in government contracts. Costa Mesa’s Measure V, which will be before voters this Tuesday, does just that.

The millions of dollars in savings can pay for more roads, libraries and parks for Costa Mesa residents, but more importantly, it will allow a level playing field in construction. By letting everyone compete on an even playing field, taxpayers get the best price and the best quality.

The Associated Builders and Contractors recently highlighted this issue for thousands of Costa Mesa voters with a mail piece in support of Measure V and the council candidates that support Measure V.

It reminds voters of something they intuitively know from the amount of mail they are receiving against Measure V from these Sacramento politicians and labor bosses — they want to control our construction industry for their own gain. Why else would it be worth it for big labor to spend over a half million dollars when the Yes on V side only has $50,000?

The answer is that they make much more than a half million dollars from these Sacramento-mandated labor rates and they will spend any amount to protect the special interest deal they have. That means that Costa Mesa taxpayers pay the costs of decreased competition while non-union construction workers and the families that depend on them are denied the opportunity to put food on the table for their kids.

That is not fair and it must be stopped. Measure V is not just a vote for local control and taxpayer savings – it is a vote to return basic fairness to working class families in the construction industry.

Costa Mesa resident DAVE EVERETT is government affairs director for Associated Builders and Contractors, Southern California Chapter.