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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Souza Misleads on Labor Agreement at September Meeting

Yesterday we reported on what we are calling the "November Surprise"--a supposed announcement that there is a labor agreement on Target. Claire St. John in her defense claims that she is initiated the calls to Souza and Saylor rather than the other way around.

The newspaper article in Thursday's Davis Enterprise, has prompted me to go back to see exactly what Souza said on that September meeting. I have clipped together about a minute of Heystek's discussion of his living wage ordinance with Souza's comments, so that the readers can see the context in which Souza made these comments.

From a listen to the video, the opening line of St. John's newspaper article is:
At a September Davis City Council meeting, Councilman Stephen Souza said he and Councilman Don Saylor were in negotiations with Target Corp. to use union labor in the construction of a Davis Target and surrounding stores.
Watching the meeting on September 18, 2006, Souza never even mentioned construction of a Target, he only mentioned that he and Saylor were working on a PLA (project labor agreement). A PLA is a collective bargaining agreement between organized labor and contractors and/or owners that applies to a specific project site. However, Souza spun this into something a lot bigger than just a construction agreement--his statement that the discussions about a living wage ordinance gave the impression that such an ordinance would conflict with the PLA, when in fact, it appears that there is little to no crossover between the two.

There are two main things that Souza told us on September 18, 2006.
We were hoping that we'd be able to bring that to you as an announcement, but we have not got it completed but we are very close to having it completed.
That was 45 days ago, and it is still not completed.

However Saylor assures us in the November 2, 2006 article:
“We expect a final agreement in a matter of weeks"
Further the delay was explained:
Negotiations between Target and the construction union have been ongoing since late August, said Jay Ziegler, one of Target’s representatives in talks, but have stalled recently after Matt Kelly, a representative for the Sacramento-Sierra Building Trades Council, was called away for a family emergency.
Family emergencies happen, so we don't want to belabor this point any further, just demonstrate that a deal was expected in mid-September and now it's early November and the election is on top of us, but there is still no agreement.

The larger point is the ongoing deception by Stephen Souza on what this agreement entailed and why it was relevent to bring up at all at the September 18, 2006 meeting.
"We have been working on that and we've almost completed it, we're hoping that these actions won't jeopardize it, because all parties have been in agreement so far to date..."
By "these actions" he is speaking specifically to Heystek's living wage proposal. However, Heystek's proposal mainly affected Target workers who would be employed by a Target store that was open for business. The labor agreement that Souza and Saylor have been working on has nothing to do with employees of a Target store, it is only about the construction of the building. That Souza would use this as an excuse to attempt to kill any discussion of a living wage ordinance was dishonest.

And his dishonesty does not end at this point.
In Souza’s opinion, a project labor agreement is more effective than imposing a living wage ordinance on Target alone, he said.
Let's be very clear once again--the PLA (project labor agreement) that Souza is speaking of deals only with the construction workers. The end of the article makes this point crystal clear.
Current negotiations do not focus on future Target employees, [Jay] Ziegler [one of Target’s representatives in talks] said.
Souza at the September 18, 2006 meeting creates the impression that they are working on something that they are not working on. His suggestion that the discussion and reading of a living wage ordinance might have jeopardized the PLA is utterly irresponsible. There would have been absolutely no impact. His statement gave us the impression that there might be some sort of labor agreement in the works for future Target employees--which would have been news given Target's anti-union policies. But that is utterly untrue. Souza's continuing assertion that this is better than a living wage is also misleading because this is such a limited agreement. Finally, as we reported yesterday, Souza continues to repeat the deception that a living wage ordinance might be unconstitutional when in fact the city attorney made it clear to him that they had a similar case in Emeryville and expected the city to prevail.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting