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Gaylord Walks Out on $1B Project for Good, Official Says

After a meeting between labor leaders and Gaylord Entertainment officials this week about a proposed $1 billion project in Chula Vista, a manager for the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council said July 19 that the Tennessee company has “walked out on the project for good.”

National labor leaders, led by John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, met with officials from Gaylord in an effort to restart negotiations. Gaylord had pulled out of a $1 billion hotel/convention center project in Chula Vista earlier this month.

Tom Lemmon, business manager for the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, said the July 17 meeting involved Bennett Westbrook and another Gaylord official, along with Sean McGarvey, secretary-treasurer of the National Building and Construction Trades Council, and Sweeney. The meeting did not result in any further negotiating sessions.

“Our national union reached out to Gaylord and was basically trying to salvage this project,” Lemmon said. “In the meeting, Gaylord made it clear there was no room for a deal.”

Lemmon said he wasn’t aware of the particulars of what was discussed, how long the meeting lasted, and whether anything was decided. But from information he received, he didn’t think Gaylord would come back to the negotiating table, he said.

“We’re at a point where we don’t think there’s a deal to be made,” he said. “We think (Gaylord) walked out on the project for good.”

Gaylord announced this month that it would no longer pursue the project because of the unreasonable demands by local union and environmental officials.

The project, a joint partnership that included Gaylord, the San Diego Unified Port District and the city of Chula Vista, would have created 6,500 temporary construction jobs, and more than 2,500 full-time jobs associated with the hotel.

In other news concerning the Gaylord project, the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego made public records requests of the three governmental agencies involved in the Gaylord negotiations.

“We believe the unions have gone from an implicit type of extortion to an explicit form, and that’s illegal,” said ABC spokesman Eric Christen. “We’d like to see that evidence presented to a grand jury.”

, Mike Allen

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