August 19, 2015

To: Superintendent Edward Kliszus
CC: Members of the Port Chester School Board
Re: School Construction

Dear Superintendent Kliszus:

On behalf of the more than 400 members of the Empire Chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors, I’d like to wish the Port Chester School District good luck with your upcoming bond vote. Ensuring that students have the best facilities possible will help them focus on greater achievement.

Of course once the bond is approved, you are going to hear from certain groups regarding the attachment of a Project Labor Agreement (or PLA) to the work. While I’m not sure of your familiarity with these costly agreements, I wanted to share with you a few concerns we have with PLA’s. As administrators of tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, I’m sure you would like to be as educated as possible when making decisions of this enormity.

What Is A Project Labor Agreement?

Project Labor Agreements are formal contracts that typically mandate labor terms for the size and scope of the work. They dictate not only where to acquire the labor force but also mandate the work that each person will perform. With these antiquated requirements, many merit shop contractors will not bid on PLA projects.  The results are diminished competition and increased costs. Further, PLA’s have also been known to create significant delays on construction projects.

An appropriate comparison to what happens with a PLA is this: Imagine if the State of New York told you tomorrow that you had to replace 3 out of 4 teachers that you currently have on staff with different teachers picked by the state and that testing begins in a week. Would you be worried? Of course you would because you are not familiar with the new staff, their skill sets/abilities or their commitment to your goals. This is essentially what happens with PLA’s. Merit shop contractors are told that they can only hire a small percentage of their employees and that they must take on new ones for PLA projects. I’m sure you can see why so many merit shop contractors don’t bid these jobs.

Impact on Taxpayers

In addition to increasing the cost of construction in general, in order to implement a PLA a study needs to be conducted. The studies, depending on who’s picked to perform the study, can cost in excess of $25,000.  That’s a great deal of money that will not be used to educate students.

At ABC, our goal is to help you by giving information that will help you save time and money.  With that, you can find numerous academic studies that have shown that projects with PLA’s attached increase costs, on average, by 12-18% when compared to similar projects without a PLA.  You can find much of that information at www.TruthAboutPLAs.com.

Hudson Valley School District Rejects PLA

Across the state school districts are rejecting PLA’s due to the increased costs associated with them. Recently, the Kingston Central School District rejected a PLA after a study concluded “…that limiting construction bids could add between $4.73 million and $11.18 million to the project cost” (Kingston Times, June 12, 2015). This was the right and responsible decision for the school district and the entire community.
We encourage you to do your due diligence with regard to administering these funds.  If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me at 585-967-2133 or via email, Sampson@abcnys.org,.

Sincerely,
Brian Sampson President, Associated Builders & Contractors Empire State