When voters passed Measure LL in 2018, they were under the impression that there would be no Project Labor Agreement (PLA). However, just a year later the Vista School Board put forward a PLA that was spearheaded by Cipriano Vargas.
Supporters of the PLA like Vargas claimed it would help local businessman and tradesman by giving them opportunities to work on local projects. Those against the PLA said that costs would go up and put projects in jeopardy. They also said they felt mislead by the board since voters believed that no PLA would be associated with Measure LL.
At the time, Vargas was employed by SEIU, a labor union. He was appointed the district representative for labor negotiations for the PLA. This was a massive conflict of interest since labor unions are the recipients of PLAs.
From Coast News, “Eric Christen, executive director for the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, said PLAs have been soundly rejected across the county and state due to many issues. He said PLAs inflate costs, intentionally box out non-union apprentices and force non-union workers to pay fringe benefit costs to unions, among other issues.” (full article below)
Instead of listening to Vista residents, Vargas let outsider groups influence the board at a September 12, 2019 board meeting during discussions on whether or not there should be a PLA. This included Carol Kim and Tom Lemmon who were top leaders in the San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council, the same union that would eventually win the PLA in 2020 and eventually endorse Vargas two years later for Mayor. Neither Kim or Lemmon have any associations with Vista and were only there for their own interests.
The effects of this PLA have been delayed projects such as the Beaumont Elementary School upgrades and construction at Bobier Elementary. Local businesses and tradesman were pushed out of the biding process, despite Vargas’ promise that the PLA would help local businesses.
Why did Cipriano Vargas let outsiders influence the board and effectively overturn the will of the Vista voters?
It is because he is friends with big labor and would rather see them succeed than Vista students. Everyone from businesses to students suffered because Cipriano Vargas would rather look out for his union friends, than the Vista voters he swore an oath to serve and represent.
Is it coincidence that labor unions are now his biggest supporters?
If Cipriano Vargas could not accurately represent the voters of Vista on the school board and allow outside influencers to make major decisions, how can we trust him to not do the same as Mayor of Vista?
Related News and Sources
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PLA for Vista school bond approved by VUSD board
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VISTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT FOR CONSTRUCTION AND MAJOR REHABILITATION FUNDED BY PROPOSITION LL