It was just last year that I helped place an initiative on the ballot to make El Cajon a charter city. A charter city has many advantages over a general law city, which include having more autonomy from the state in regard to a variety of issues.
The most exciting one, however, was the ability to no longer be required to pay prevailing wage. I remember bracing for a wave of protest from union activists, but getting only a mild response. I now know why the tepid protest; Just last week SB 7 was passed by the effectively one-party state legislature and signed by Gov. Brown, of the same party. The result is a classic overreach of the state government, to the cost of the rights of sovereign cities, and for the benefit of labor unions.
There are many reasons why you as a citizen of San Diego County should care about this abuse of power. San Diego is a charter city, as are Oceanside, Santee, Vista, San Marcos, Carlsbad and El Cajon. As a result of SB 7, all of these municipalities will have to pay between 15 percent to 20 percent more on public projects. In El Cajon, that means a projected $2 million loss on a sewer project, $1.5 million less to build an animal shelter, and an additional $1 million to upgrade our Performing Arts Center. We get no added value for this forced concession. We just pay more for the same service.
We lose much more than money. We lose self determination. We lose the ability to self govern. We are forced to participate in a system that artificially protects a certain group of workers and pays them an inflated wage, while forcing a larger group of nonunion workers into a marketplace where they cannot compete; where the deck is stacked against them.
Union apologists will tell you that these workers are substandard and will produce an unsafe product. This, however, is simply untrue. All of these contractors are licensed by the state and must qualify to be a part of the bidding process.
Why, then, would our Democrat senators, assemblypersons and governor force such a bill down our throats? It is simply that labor unions support Democrats. By way of the super majority, Democrats effectively enjoy a one-party rule in Sacramento, and are now in the position to support their benefactors. Unions get the money, Democrat politicians keep their power and the will of the people is of no consequence.
If this were only about the money I would be irritated, but not in a state of abject anger. It is inherently not right for a government to pick winners and losers. We are not so deep into socialistic principles that we, as the people, have forgotten that the free market has made the California economy more prosperous than most nations. Turning our back on these principles will have much more significant consequences than having to pay prevailing wage, but this is a prime example of what government overreach and tyranny looks like.