We caught up with labor leader Lorena Gonzalez to talk about the message behind the Labor Council’s new Spanish-language television ad comparing Arizona’s controversial immigration law and Chula Vista’s Proposition G, which would ban the city from requiring project labor agreements.
“The commercial is very straightforward. There was a law in Arizona that discriminates against Latinos,” Gonzalez said. “And there’s a law in Chula Vista they’re trying to pass that would discriminate against our community.”
The Labor Council had previously argued that Proposition G will discriminate against any union worker, not just Latinos. Now, they’re taking that argument, which we explained yesterday, to a new level.
But saying Proposition G will discriminate against Latinos like Arizona’s immigration law is a stretch. For one, the immigration law has nothing to do with Proposition G. The immigration law encourages local law enforcement to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally. Proposition G would prohibit the city from adding certain contract requirements to public works projects.
Proposition G also doesn’t distinguish Latino workers from any other race or ethnicity. It’s about the entire construction industry. The Labor Council has specifically chosen to highlight that segment of all union workers it argues could be banned under its interpretation of the ordinance’s language.
“Whether it’s meant to or it’s not meant to, it discriminates against Latino union members,” Gonzalez said.
She also argues that the same people who support Proposition G also support Arizona’s immigration law. She pointed to the county’s Republican Party and specifically George Hawkins, the former president of San Diego’s chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, which put Proposition G on the ballot. The Daily Transcript published this editorial Tuesday by Hawkins that supports the Arizona law.
Gonzalez said this was not a fight she wanted to fight, but has been forced to because of the campaign being run by Proposition G supporters.
“We are responding to what they’re doing,” she said. “We are not in some vacuum throwing this out.”
Proposition G supporters argue the ordinance will ensure both union and nonunion construction workers can be hired for the city’s lucrative public works contracts. It would require “Fair and Open Competition in Contracting.”
Gonzalez said that language misleads voters.
“It’s not fair and open competition,” she said. “We have no reason to believe they’re not trying to end unions.”
The supporters’ main campaign argument implies that union and nonunion workers are being treated unequally by the city now and that won’t change unless Proposition G passes.
In fact, both can be hired today and both could be hired under contracts using project labor agreements, which the ordinance proposes to ban the city from ever requiring. We’ve called some of Proposition G supporters’ statements along these themes barely true, misleading and huckster propaganda through the San Diego Fact Check Blog.
— KEEGAN KYLE and ANDREW DONOHUE