Skip to main content

New transparency measures for subcontractors passed by City of San Diego

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) praised the San Diego City Council’s passage of the Contractor Transparency Amendment, which will require construction and right-of-way permit holders to disclose the subcontractors they are using to complete permitted work.

“The City of San Diego is all in on contractor transparency,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “This amendment will help protect our city assets by making sure that all contractors and subcontractors that work in San Diego are properly licensed and their workers adequately trained.”


As it stood previously, companies like Verizon, which is deploying small cells on street light poles across the City of San Diego for its 5G network, have not been required to disclose any information on companies they subcontract work out to. This gap in disclosure requirements was revealed in CWA's June 2020 report analyzing the City of San Diego’s 5G deal with Verizon.


After the publication of that June 2020 report, CWA members began surveying Verizon’s 5G sites in an attempt to understand who was working in San Diego’s streets. Over the past two years, CWA members have surveyed more than a hundred Verizon 5G sites across the city and documented numerous instances of shoddy and substandard work performed by subcontractors.


“As a telecom technician with over twenty years of experience working in San Diego, I have seen firsthand the pitfalls of multi-layered subcontracting arrangements when it comes to work quality, public safety, and labor standards,” said Frank Lopez, a telecom technician and Chair of CWA Local 9509’s Health and Safety Committee. “I’m proud to be a part of the movement to hold contractors accountable and excited to work with the City of San Diego’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to make this policy a success and model for other cities nationwide.”


This City ordinance follows on the heels of the passage of a subcontractor transparency ordinance by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in May, which CWA was also instrumental in helping craft.


Low-road subcontracting has become increasingly prevalent in the telecommunications industry. An October 2020 report by CWA exposed the extent to which carriers rely on a vast network of contractors to build out their networks and connect customers to broadband, often cutting its own unionized employees out of much of this work.


“I am in full support of the Contractor Transparency Amendment and pleased that the San Diego region is stepping out as a leader on this issue,” said San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, who represents District 3. “This policy makes it clear that to work in our city you must be licensed and your workers must be trained and work safely. I am voting yes on contractor transparency and accountability and yes for San Diegans.”


The new ordinance will allow San Diego city officials to hold permit holders and their subcontractors accountable for their work, along with their safety and labor practices, helping to prevent unqualified operators and violators from doing sub-par work in San Diego.




New transparency measures for subcontractors passed by City of San Diego (CWA, Aug. 1, 2022)

To fight wage theft, San Diego adopts stricter transparency rules for city contractors (San Diego Union-Tribune, Aug. 2, 2022)