By Johnny Magdaleno.
In November, San Diego will go to the polls to decide whether or not it’ll let local NFL team the San Diego Chargers build a $1.8 billion stadium-convention center in the heart of the city. Most of the project will get backed by public dollars, with $1.15 billion getting funded through a 4 percentage point tax hike on the city’s hotel tax. The remaining $650 million will get financed through a combination of loans and private backing from both the NFL and team owners.
The funding part, at least, is clear. But when it comes to building and maintaining the stadium and its annex convention center over the years, the city is headed for a battle over who should get those jobs.
In April, when the Chargers announced they’d be working with a local union council to build a project labor agreement (PLA) into the plan, it left a lot of people scratching their heads. The PLA made news after owners met with a coalition of trade organizations, meaning it’ll likely give union-backed construction workers a direct pipeline to jobs building the infrastructure.
But nearly 94 percent of private-sector workers in San Diego are non-union, and for construction workers, that percentage hovers around 90 percent, according to anti-union advocate Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.
“It’s a Hobbesian deal,” says Christen. “Just the fact that they’re willing to entertain it is so offensive and maddening to us.”