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Labor Leaders Say They’re Giving Up on Gaylord

A group of local labor leaders said Aug. 1 that they are giving up trying to broker an agreement with Gaylord Entertainment on a proposed $1 billion convention center and hotel in Chula Vista.

Tennessee-based Gaylord said in a letter in July that it was no longer pursuing the project in Chula Vista because of labor’s “unwavering, unreasonable demands.”

But two weeks ago, a Gaylord representative met with several national labor leaders about the project, including John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO.

In response, Gaylord sent a proposal to the local labor leaders that included some changes. However, the proposal is a “nonstarter, and doesn’t even address the issue of local workers,” according to a statement by Tom Lemmon of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council.

The Gaylord project has been in the planning stages since July 2006 when the public company, the San Diego Unified Port District and the city of Chula Vista signed an agreement to develop 32 acres of bay front land for a project said to create 6,500 temporary construction jobs and 2,000 permanent hotel jobs.

Gaylord has been negotiating with labor groups here to forge a project labor agreement on how the company would build the development. While such an agreement is not required, the threat of possible litigation was something that Gaylord wanted to avoid.

The two public agencies committed to $308 million in subsidies for the project, but neither agency was involved in the negotiations on a labor agreement.

In a press conference following labor’s announcement, Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said labor’s decision to stop talking to Gaylord was unreasonable.

“We’ve been robbed of the opportunity to work with this established and successful company by unreasonable demands,” she said.

A statement issued shortly after by Gaylord said it has been encouraged by the outpouring of local support for the project and because of that support made a counter proposal to the local unions.

Gaylord said it was dismayed by the tone of the response to its proposal.

“In the coming days, we plan to assess this matter and have discussions with the city of Chula Vista and the port about next steps,” according to the prepared Gaylord statement.

, Mike Allen

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