Tensions in organized labor over Brown’s redevelopment plan

The state’s fiscal turmoil has caused fissures in one of California’s most important political interests – organized labor.

Ironically, the immediate cause of the division is Gov. Jerry Brown, who won the November election with the crucial backing of labor.

But his proposal to abolish California’s redevelopment agencies has raised tensions among labor groups as they advocate for their union members’ best interests.

The issue is expected to get a full airing at a two-day unity meeting in Sacramento, the Joint Legislative Conference, sponsored by the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council.

The head of the Building and Construction Trades Council, an umbrella group whose 160 affiliates represent some 350,000 workers, is expected to address the gathering at the Sheraton Grand.

Brown hopes to eliminate some 425 local redevelopment agencies and tap their property tax-based funds for other purposes, such as schools. The administrations believes his plan would free up some $1.7 billion, although critics believe it would be far less, in part because of the decline in property values.

Opposing Brown’s plan are the State Building and Construction Trades Council and union groups, including AFCSME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. 

Favoring Brown’s plan are the powerful California Teachers Association, the California Professional Firefighters and the Service Employees International Union, including the 95,000-member SEIU Local 1000, the largest single bargaining unit of state employees.

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