Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox today called on organized labor leaders to promptly resolve their disagreement that threatens the future of Gaylord Entertainment’s billion-dollar bay-front development.

At an afternoon press conference, Cox waved a schedule of Southwest Airlines flights to Nashville, Tenn. — Gaylord’s headquarters — and urged labor leaders to complete a deal with Gaylord before the developer pulled out.

The central issue between Gaylord and the San Diego County Building & Construction Trades Council is who would be hired to work on the project’s construction if it goes ahead. Union groups want an agreement that would ensure union workers are hired for the project’s 6,500 jobs.

Chula Vista city officials say they are concerned that such an agreement would exclude local, non-union workers.

“Controlling wages is one thing,” Cox said. “Controlling who gets to work would be another.”

Aside from the press conference, little progress seems to have been made today, with the project’s future still appearing precarious.

Denny Stone, the city’s economic development officer, said a noon meeting had been scheduled between a Gaylord representative and Tom Lemmon, the building trades council’s business manager. But Lemmon canceled, Stone said.

Gaylord had set a June 30 deadline for the resolution of labor negotiations. If that was the sunset, the two sides now appear to be in the gloaming.

“The deadline’s come and gone,” Stone said. “We’re on borrowed time.”

Ron Morrison, National City’s mayor, said union members may have to force a compromise.

“They’re the ones who are going to have to flex their muscles,” Morrison said. “The only thing it hurts is labor — this is going to hurt working people.”

Lemmon’s labor group sent out another news release this afternoon, explaining why it announced yesterday that Gaylord had “reportedly” withdrawn from Chula Vista. In the statement, Lemmon said he was “shocked” that Gaylord had denied the news.

“We stand by our position that it is imperative for Gaylord to make a legal commitment to hire local workers if they are to receive a $300 million taxpayer subsidy,” Lemmon said. “That is the heart of our position and we believe it is only fair.”

Brian Abrahamson, a Gaylord spokesman, declined comment and said the company would likely not have any comment until after the Fourth of July holiday.


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