In this week's issue, I took a look at some inaccurate claims paid signature gatherers are making to lure folks into signing petitions in support of two proposed ballot measures: the "Comprehensive Pension Reform" initiative (which would, among other things, move all newly hired city employees, except police officers, into a 401(k)-style retirement plan) and the "Fair and Open Competition in Construction" initiative, which would prohibit the city of San Diego from entering into so-called project-labor agreements. Project-labor agreements, basically, set terms of employment prior to the start of large-scale projects.
With my story, I included three videos, shot by opponents of both ballot measures, of signature gatherers making false claims. Today, I got another video:
Let's take a look at the two main claims:
"They only hire union contractors in San Diego for city construction, and a lot of those guys don't live here."
"They don't allow us to [bid on projects] unless we're part of a union.... It's union-only contracting."
False. The city has no rules saying that only union contractors can bid on municipal projects. But, just to be sure, I checked with Bill Harris, spokesperson for the city's public-works departments. "We don't restrict it," he said. "We want the lowest responsible bidder." As for the claim that "a lot of those guys don't live here"—there's nothing in the ballot measure that would require city contractors to hire from the local labor pool. Nada. Not a word. If anything, the ballot measure would prevent the city from making such a mandate. Project-labor agreements almost always require that a certain percentage of workers come from the local labor market (last year, the city of L.A. set this hiring requirement for 98 municipal projects).
My co-worker Dave Maass tried to contact the signature-gathering firms handling these petitions—the La Jolla Group and Victory Consultants—to ask both about an Assembly bill that would regulate the process and also about complaints that signature gatherers were giving out wrong information. Neither returned his calls. According to pre-recorded messages at both firms, the "fair contracting" measure pays $1 per signature. Gather more than 300 sigs in a week and you get a 50-cents-each bonus. The pension-reform measure pays $1.5o per signature with the same bonus