Gov. Jerry Brown needs to get his veto pen ready. There's a host of special-interest, union bills headed for his desk that deserve a quick burial. Among them are:

  • Senate Bill 922. Originally, this was a measure about TB screening, but it was gutted and amended just before the Labor Day weekend to become a bill to kill fair and open competition laws and bans on costly project labor agreements (PLAs) enacted by cities and counties.

    Several local governments in California have developed policies to prohibit government-mandated PLAs to save taxpayer money on public projects. PLAs require union wage scales. As a result, they inhibit competition and unnecessarily boost the cost of taxpayer-funded public projects, but that is of little concern to sponsors of this bill.

  • Assembly Bill 436. This bill formerly was about defining private energy generation facilities as public works. But it also was gutted and amended without hearings to require local governments to pay Labor Compliance Program fees to the state unless they mandated their contractors to sign PLAs with unions.

    Like SB922, this bill would reduce competition and raise costs for taxpayers.

  • Senate Bill 790. This is a measure that allows communities to pool to buy electricity. It was hijacked and amended to include a provision that authorizes payments in PLAs covering utility infrastructure projects to slush funds managed by construction union officials to fund political activities.


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  • Assembly Bill 438. This is designed to prevent public libraries from privatizing any of their services. It would force private firms that provided library services to pay union rates and obey union rules. The reason some cities have sought to privatize some library operations is because they cannot afford the costly union rates in a time of economic hardship.

    AB438 most likely would prevent cities and counties from expanding or even maintaining current library services as local government revenues shrink.

    All four of the above bills reduce local governments' flexibility in trying to cut costs while maintaining important services or constructing public facilities.

    The measures amount to a fiscal attack on taxpayers and cities by reducing competition and forcing union pay scales and rules on library services and public works.

    Even worse, the three bills concerning PLAs are last-minute hijackings of unrelated measures to quickly sneak special-interest benefits for labor unions into law. This is hardly the proper way to enact laws, especially those that fly in the face of fair competition and the public good.

    We trust Brown will have the political courage to veto these four bills, which undermine the democratic process, tie the hands of local government officials and ultimately harm California residents.