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ABC Corrects the Record on PLAs

In a recently published opinion article, “Project Labor Agreements Bring Accountability to Large Scale SUNY Projects”, by Bill Banfield, he makes blatantly incorrect promises about Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). The entire article is based on a false premise. ABC can’t stand by and allow these false narratives to prevail. Doing so would lead to PLAs impacting the SUNY system. Let us focus on a few things in the article that are important to correct.

Mr. Banfield stated, "When New York taxpayer funds are used on a project, that investment should go back into New York communities." Oddly we agree. However, that doesn't happen when a PLA is in place because it mandates companies hire most of their workers from the union. Most qualified contractors in New York refuse to bid for PLA projects because they cannot use their own workers they’ve trained and support. That’s a problem as 80% of workers in New York aren't part of a union (2024 by Barry T. Hirsch, David A. Macpherson, and William E. Even). That means much of the labor working on PLA projects come from union halls out of state. Paying out of state union workers, while most of the local workforce is forced to sit on the sidelines, is not investing in New York communities.

Banfield goes onto say that "A PLA is an agreement that defines wages...". PLAs have absolutely nothing to do with wages. Wages are determined by New York's prevailing wage laws, Article 8 and 9 of the New York Labor Law. PLAs do, however, enforce various workers concessions like the reduction of coffee breaks, holiday pay and outdated work jurisdictional rules.

Mr. Banfield’s main argument is that "PLAs prevent work stoppages and establish dispute resolution procedures." Again, false. There are many examples of the unions still picketing and protesting jobs even with PLA agreements. In 2015, the New York Post reported that members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters walked off up to 12 PLA projects in a strike. It’s almost as if he’s intentionally not being truthful to the readers.

Mr. Banfield concludes the article by stating “private construction projects have utilized PLAs for decades.” Yet again this statement is not backed up by any resemblance of a fact. The truth is that most of the private work goes to nonunion and PLAs were created to steer work away from the nonunion contractors who are dominating the private market.

After reading this you may be wondering why only politicians and unions push for PLAs as a good way to build? Unions spend a lot of money on those politicians, and in return, they attach PLAs to projects to benefit their union donors. It pretty much eliminates non-union employees from working on those projects since the vast majority of the workers need to come from the union hall.

A PLA is just a legal tool for politicians to scratch the back of union Business Agents who just scratched their back with a campaign donation. They benefit while the rest of us are expected to foot the bill and deal with the all too foreseeable consequences of PLAs.