Thursday, October 24, 2013

Unions, Democrats, Shipbuilding and the Mayor's Race

An interesting development in the San Diego mayoral race is the way labor unions are splitting their endorsements between the two main Democrats in the race, Alvarez and Fletcher.  Fletcher features endorsements largely from government affiliated employees unions such as these (not all inclusive, from his website):

  • San Diego City Firefighters/IAFF Local 145
  • San Diego Police Officers Association
  • San Diego Lifeguards Association/Teamsters, Local 911
  • San Diego County Probation Officers Association
  • San Diego Deputy City Attorneys
  • Peace Officers Research Association
  • San Diego Municipal Employees Association

Governor Jerry Brown has also endorsed Fletcher, which doesn't surprise me because he seems beholden to the public sector unions.

Meanwhile Alvarez is more heavily favored by the private sector unions.  The San Diego-Imperial County Counties Labor Council has endorsed Alvarez.  Our home has received multiple phone calls from UCFW 135 asking for support for Alvarez.  The county Democrats also endorsed Alvarez, perhaps not trusting Fletcher, the former Republican?

In terms of substantive issues, the dispute over land use in Barrio Logan that pits some residents against shipbuilding interests.  The City Council adopted a community plan on September 17 opposed by shipbuilding interests who say it will eventually kill jobs in San Diego.  Alvarez has supported and Faulconer opposed the plan.  Why do shipbuilding interests oppose the plan? According to Andrew Keatts at VOSD:
Really, what’s in dispute within the plan is its attempt to separate industrial and residential areas by creating a commercial buffer in a small area northeast of the shipyard. Homes are explicitly banned from being built in that area – meaning no waterfront condos.
That area’s currently occupied by an array of industrial companies, many of which service the shipyard in one way or another. One of those companies, for instance, is Cal Marine Cleaning, which does mechanical cleaning for the three major shipbuilding companies, BAE Systems, Continental Maritime of San Diego and General Dynamics NASSCO.
Keatts goes on to say that there is a "slippery slope" argument, that eventually the buffer zone will be turned into housing, which will in turn lead to a demand to remove all industrial activity from Barrio Logan.  What is also obvious is that killing off support industries is a way to strangle the shipbuilding and repair industry.  It seems obvious that the plan is a threat to the industrial ecosystem of the area, which of course hurts jobs creation.  From the U-T:
Shipyard leaders have expressed concern that the new plan could drive up suppliers’ costs, make San Diego less competitive and possibly prompt the Navy to contract ship building elsewhere.
Although Alvarez and Faulconer, as city council members, have garnered the most attention on this issue, Fletcher has endorsed a more restrictive plan than even Alvarez endorsed.  Democrats could once be counted upon to at least favor economic plans that helped unionized industries, like shipbuilding.  What has changed?  The Democratic coalition has become more and more a coalition of environmentalists, government employees and beneficiaries.  Of necessity, that makes the Democratic party the enemy of free enterprise.  (Fletcher pictured at right a "Protect Our Jobs" rally, courtesy KPBS.)

Looking for shipbuilder and fellow blogger Dean to weigh in.

What You Should Be Reading

  • The train wreck of the ACA websites' debacle, but the news has seemingly been everywhere, so I don't believe you missed it.  Of course, Dean has his own snarky take on the whole fiasco. Of course, we are also seeing massive spinning about the savings some folks are seeing, but W.C. Varones shows how the media lies about that too. DooDooEcon publishes a nice little map showing winners and mostly losers by state.
  • Don't believe that the government's tech woes will be solved by whiz kids from Silicon Valley.  Veteran program managers of global systems will tell you that forcing the system to operate correctly only when data is available from all sources is a poor practice.  But the political decision to prevent revelations on the amount of subsidies people are getting drove technology in the wrong direction.  See Reuters for an accessible explanation.  This is not about technology, but politics overwhelming good program management.

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