The PRO Act (H.R. 842 and S. 420) attempts to increase union density and union leverage without regard for the negative impacts it would have on workers, businesses, and the economy.
Reminiscent of the Employee Free Choice Act, this bill will strip away workers’ free choice in union elections, as well as their privacy rights by forcing employers to share their employees’ personal information – including home addresses, shift schedules, and personal contact information – with unions. It will also codify the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial joint-employer standard that has threatened our country’s small, local businesses and limit opportunities for people to work independently through gig economy platforms, such as Uber and Lyft or more traditional independent contractor roles.
For these reasons, ABC opposes the passage of the PRO Act (H.R. 842 and S. 420).
ABC Empire State Strongly Opposes Government-mandated Project Labor Agreements on Public Construction Projects
ANTI-COMPETITIVE PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS (PLAS) ARE SPECIAL INTEREST SCHEMES THAT END OPEN, FAIR AND COMPETITIVE BIDDING ON PUBLIC WORKS 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 projects.
Contracts subject 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.
- The Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 1671/S. 71), introduced by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), which would codify into law language from President George W. Bush’s Executive Orders 13202 and 13208
- Legislative or executive measures to preserve full and open competition on public construction contracts requiring government neutrality regarding a contractor’s use of a PLA
- Federal construction contracts awarded based on sound and credible criteria, such as quality of work, experience and cost—not a company’s union affiliation and willingness to execute a PLA.
- Government-mandated PLAs and discriminatory PLA preferences on federal and federally assisted construction projects.
- Claims by PLA proponents that government mandates and preferences for PLAs will improve theconomy and efficiency in federal contracting.
- 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
The Davis-Bacon Act is an 80-year-old wage subsidy law administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that mandates so-called “prevailing” wages for work performed on federally financed construction projects. Davis-Bacon hinders economic growth, increases the federal deficit, imposes enormous burdens that stifle contractor productivity, ignores skill differences for different jobs, and imposes rigid craft work rules.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly criticized DOL’s Davis-Bacon wage determination process for its lack of transparency in how the published wage rates are set, as well as its tendency to gather erroneous data through unscientific wage surveys. DOL’s responses to these and other independent government reports have been dismissive at best, and demonstrate that the agency is incapable of administering and enforcing the Davis-Bacon Act in a fair and responsible manner.
Despite years of low union density in the construction industry, DOL’s flawed wage survey process somehow mandates union wage rates more than 60 percent of the time. These wage determinations force federal contractors to use outdated and inefficient union job classifications that ignore the productive work practices successfully used in the merit shop construction industry.
Davis-Bacon also fails to provide equal access to work opportunities because complexities and inefficiencies in the act’s implementation make it nearly impossible for many qualified small merit shop firms to competitively bid on publicly funded projects. These businesses are at an even greater disadvantage due to low net profit margins and high unemployment facing the industry.
DOL’s mishandling of the Davis-Bacon wage determination process is not just bad for construction—it’s bad for taxpayers as well. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Davis-Bacon Act will raise federal construction costs by $13 billion between 2015 and 2023. However, despite repeated criticisms from GAO and DOL’s Office of Inspector General, the agency has implemented few, if any, meaningful reforms in its administration of the act since the early years of the Reagan administration.
- Repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act.
- Legislative and regulatory efforts designed to improve federal wage determinations and limit the negative impacts of DOL’s current policy.
- Unequal access to work opportunities. Davis-Bacon prevents many qualified small merit shop contractors from bidding on publicly funded projects
- Waste, fraud and abuse. Davis-Bacon sets artificial wages and restricts competition, resulting in billions of dollars being unnecessarily added to the cost of public works projects.
- Expansion of the Davis-Bacon Act into areas of public and private projects in which it previously has not been mandated.
The five-member National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is tasked with interpreting and enforcing the National Labor Relations Act. The agency is supposed to serve as a neutral arbiter of federal labor law, but under the current administration, it has promoted the narrow policy goals of the politically powerful unions.
The NLRB recently finalized its controversial “ambush” elections rule. The rule significantly changes the union election process by reducing the amount of time between when a union files a representation petition and accelerates an election from a current median of 38 days to as few as 10 to 14 days. The rule also seeks to “streamline” the process by deferring or eliminating long-held employer rights. In addition, the rule requires employers to hand over their employees’ names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, work locations, shifts and job classifications to union organizers.
The NLRB “ambush” elections final rule will work hand-in-glove with the U.S. Department of Labor’s pending “persuader” rule, which ABC also opposes. Together, these two rules could achieve a primary objective of the deceptively named Employee Free Choice Act by forcing labor neutrality on employers.
If left unchecked, NLRB actions will further jeopardize economic recovery and profoundly impact millions of American employers and their employees. It is imperative that Congress works to restore much-needed balance to the workplace.
- Balanced policies that reflect to the NLRB’s original mission to fairly interpret and enforce federal labor law.
- Legislation that preserves longstanding union election procedures by safeguarding the right of workers to make informed decisions about union representation, ensuring the ability of employers to communicate with their employees, and protecting the privacy of workers and their families.
- The NLRB’s final rule that implements “ambush” style union representation elections. Such policies unfairly obstruct and silence employers while violating workers’ privacy and depriving them of valuable information.
- Any efforts by the NLRB to redefine who qualifies as a “joint employer” under the NLRA.
- Any efforts by the NLRB to overturn balanced precedent or implement anti-employer policies and rulemakings.