In a very well-considered opinion the City Council voted on Feb 27 to completely repeal the so-called Workforce Community Agreement which would drive jobs to Albuquerque and drive up project costs to taxpayers.

The Chamber has been lobbying for repeal for a few months and a number of members spoke passionately at the meeting in support of repeal.

The public hearing about the issue was filled with rhetoric and included mentions of Carl Rove, Mitt Romney, gun control, the death of the middle class, robber barons, General Motors, alleged wage theft and individual rights. Remarkably, no mention of chickens or cell phone towers.

To their credit the councilors saw through the hyperbole and focused on the heart of the issue – how can we work together to create jobs for Santa Feans. A number of councilors also expressed displeasure with the heavy handed and “threatening” tactics employed by the Santa Fe Democratic Party who defined the debate as pro or anti-union rather than pro jobs. The truth is that only 7% of the New Mexico workforce is unionized and union power continues to shrink. Undoubtedly, in the past, unions have played a critically important role in creating safe and fair workplaces. However, in the new economy with new technology, contract based work, the decline of manufacturing and construction, more live/work environments and a global economy, the role of labor has failed to keep up with the times.

A councilor remarked after the vote “we’ve stuck it to business long enough.”

Politically we have a City election coming up in March of 2014. Historically, we have seen public sector unions deliver contributions and votes for those who support their positions. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic is changing.

The Chamber strongly supports apprentice programs that help prepare our workforce for available jobs. Our Education Committee works hard to support a number of programs that create pathways to career success and we invite members to get involved.

Thank you to the Public Policy and Economic Development Committees for their efforts on this issue.

Simon Brackley

President and CEO

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