Supervisors stick up for the 85 percent

Congratulations to a majority of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors -- Valerie Brown, David Rabbitt and Efren Carrillo -- for sticking up for the 85 percent.

That would be the 85 percent of the county's construction workers who choose not to belong to a union but who would have been subject to union work rules if the board had approved a policy Sept. 18 requiring project labor agreements on large projects over $25 million.

Their 3-2 vote to send the policy proposal back for negotiations took significant political courage since unions have become the mother's milk of campaign finance. But the three supervisors saw the proposal for what it was: A handout to unions and bad policy that would lock the county into potentially expensive contracts on projects that haven't even been conceived.

"Convince me what I'm getting for the additional cost," said Supervisor Rabbitt. "Or convince me there is no additional cost. No one has convinced me of anything." 

The prize unions thought they might get had a majority of the supervisors backed the PLA proposal was the $54 million airport expansion now on hold for environmental studies.

It remains a possibility that a PLA could be approved for that project. But supervisors should only approve such an agreement if specific and reasonable conditions are met, such as no increase in project cost and not forcing non-union workers to double-pay for union pension and health benefits.

On those conditions, supervisors should be unwavering.

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