Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council, an umbrella group for unions representing everyone from pipefitters to boilermakers to bricklayers, has come out against the proposed charter amendment that would give residents direct control over a small portion of the city budget.
The amendment–referred to as “PB” for short–would give a new committee of city appointees the power to spend city money through a neighborhood-based voting system. They’d have 2% of the general fund to work with, or roughly $14 million.
“This is nothing more than a hijacking attempt to try to control a portion of the city’s budget,” building trades leader Dave Wondolowski told Signal Cleveland. “And it’s extremely detrimental and extremely dangerous.”
Wondolowski said the measure would take spending power out of the hands of City Council members who were elected to manage the taxpayers’ money. He embraced the question about whether labor groups are just looking out for their own paychecks.
“Of course we are,” Wondolowski said. “My job is to worry about my bargaining unit at the City of Cleveland, and the last thing I want to do is have men and women that have building trades cards in their pocket in city jobs be laid off because of this silly proposal.”
In the past, the pro-PB campaign has called such threats of budget and staffing cuts as “scare tactics to dissuade residents from having real power to make real decisions about how public money gets spent.”
The anti-PB coalition includes Cleveland’s EMS union and is expected to be joined soon by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and others. On Friday, the North Shore Federation of Labor, the region’s largest labor group, formally announced its opposition to the charter proposal.
Wondolowski said he plans to be very active in the “No” effort. His members will likely be dropping campaign literature at doors – and writing checks, too. The building trades council’s many member unions are prolific campaign contributors.