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Labor contract ignites lawsuit in San Diego public works project

It's not easy to go to court over any issue. Contractors and other construction professionals often roll their eyes when injunctions and other legal instruments show up over a dispute because it means more time and money spent on something other than the project at hand.

Contractors often have to adhere to specific labor regulations within the state of California or one of its municipalities with its own laws. One example is San Diego's massive project to reclaim drinking water from recycled sewage, which included a requirement for builders to accept union-friendly contracts.

However, contractors have cited a 2012 referendum that restricts San Diego from allowing unions to dominate city contracts. Labor agreements like the one requiring union-friendly contracts may violate the seven-year-old ballot measure.

In the case of San Diego's water project, the agreements give up the right to strike or withhold labor in return for all related workers to pay union dues as they pass through union halls. But if union apprentices work on two or more major sections of the public works undertaking, the city may be violating the voters' decision.

"We raised the legal issues far in advance to resolve them, but they had no appetite to resolve them," said the chief operating officer of the contractors' association bring the lawsuit.

Costly delays over contracts can be a problem for contractors and their employees. Legal representation may help offset the damage done by others' decisions and get projects and companies back on track. A lawyer is a good ally when contracts face these sorts of problems.

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