I-200 co-sponsor Tim Eyman, a prominent anti-tax activist,
argues that the hiring pact is an attempt to evade the ban
against affirmative action in public hiring. In a recent complaint
to the state Attorney General, he called the agreement "a
blatant and flagrant violation of state law."
A deputy attorney general responded that the office had no
legal authority in the issue since the monorail agency is
a local government entity, not a state agency.
The pact is being studied by the Pacific Legal Foundation,
a public-interest law firm that supports I-200 and has sued
to enforce the similar Proposition 209 in California.
"The devil is in the details," said attorney Russell
Brooks, who said the foundation hasn't taken a position yet
on the labor agreement. "Is it offering advantages to
some people and not to others because of their race?"
Union officials hailed the agreement.
"Family-wage jobs are hard to come by in this economy,
especially for people with cards stacked against them,"
said monorail board member Steve Williamson, executive secretary-treasurer
of the King County Labor Council. "This agreement has
potential to help a lot of people turn their situations around."
Peter Coates, executive secretary of the Seattle/King County
Building and Construction Trades Council, said his organization
has reached out to African-American businesses to discuss
prospects for doing some off-site monorail work such
as pre-casting the concrete columns even though small
businesses tend to be nonunion.
I-200's passage created a dilemma because many politicians
and agencies opposed to the law are now obligated to carry
During the press conference, monorail Executive Director
Joel Horn said of the agreement: "We're going a far as
we can possibly go without violating the law."
Sound Transit's light-rail project also sets targets for
minority and female participation. The only recent controversy
came not from the political right but from black ministers,
who protested in January because black-owned businesses were
getting a minuscule share of the dollars.
The monorail labor agreement forbids strikes or walkouts
during construction of the 14-mile monorail connecting Ballard,
Seattle Center, downtown, and West Seattle through 2009.