ABC, Empire State strongly opposes government-mandated Project labor agreements on public construction projects
Anti-competitive and costly
government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) are special interest
schemes that end open, fair and competitive bidding on contracts to build
taxpayer- funded construction projects. Government-mandated PLAs discourage
merit shop contractors from bidding on taxpayer- funded construction contracts
and drive up costs between 12 percent and 18 percent, which results in fewer
infrastructure improvements and reduced construction industry job creation.
A PLA is a
project-specific collective bargaining agreement with multiple unions that is unique to the construction industry. The National Labor Relations Act permits construction employers to execute a PLA voluntarily, but when a PLA is mandated by a government agency, construction contracts can be awarded only to contractors and subcontractors that agree to the terms and conditions of the PLA.
Typically, PLAs force contractors to recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on a
job; use the union hiring hall to obtain workers; hire apprentices exclusively
through union apprenticeship programs; pay fringe benefits into union- managed
benefits and multi-employer pension programs; and obey the unions’ restrictive
and inefficient work rules and job classifications. PLAs force employees to pay
union dues, accept unwanted union representation, and forfeit benefits
earned during the life of a PLA project unless they join a union and become
vested in union benefit plans.
On Feb. 6, 2009,
President Obama issued Executive Order 13502, which strongly encourages federal
agencies to require PLAs on a case-by-case basis on federal construction
projects exceeding $25 million in total cost.
The Obama administration also repealed former President George W. Bush's Executive
Orders 13202 and 13208, which maintained government neutrality in federal
contracting from 2001 to 2009 by prohibiting the government from requiring
contractors to adhere to a government-mandated PLA as a condition of winning
federal or federally assisted construction contracts.
In response to the threat of Obama administration PLA requirements, 24 states have enacted
legislation or executive orders restricting PLA requirements and
preferences on state and local projects since 2011. To date, a total of 23 states have measures similar to the Bush orders
that guarantee fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction
to government-mandated PLAs are special interest carve-outs designed to funnel
work to favored unionized contractors and their unionized workforces, which
represent just 13.9 percent of the U.S. private construction workforce,
according to 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
PLA requirements and PLA preferences on taxpayer-funded contracts expose procurement officials to intense political pressure, disrupt local collective bargaining agreements, stifle competition, create contracting and construction delays, and prevent taxpayers from receiving the best possible construction product at the best possible price.
If you catch wind of a possible proposed government mandated PLA or want to get involved in the fight against PLA’s, please contact us at ABC-Empire@abcnys.org
By Brian Sampson
President, Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors
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