Ogdensburg Won’t Save Money With a PLA

From The Watertown Daily Times 

For years, the city of Ogdensburg has struggled to gather funding for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. Now, with the final financing pieces falling into place, the spendthrift City Council has voted to irresponsibly waste tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to conduct a study to consider using a Project Labor Agreement: a discriminatory, pre-hire agreement with labor organizations requiring that the workforce comes from the local union hiring hall. Using PLAs virtually eliminates competition for the unions, ensuring their contractors win the work.

Those who favor organized labor will argue that PLAs are a cost-saving measure. That’s simply false. They will point to pre-construction studies that use an antiquated labor model created to demonstrate that the PLA will save money. However, the outdated model fails to accommodate for the massive changes in the construction industry over the past few decades. The City Council was recently approached by Seeler Engineering, a company that tailors its studies to show union favorability, to conduct the study for the price of $21,000.

Having grown up in St. Lawrence County, I understand the economics of the region and how important it is to stretch the taxpayer dollar. Each City Council member has fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers. The obvious way to uphold that responsibility is to allow every qualified contractor, including many in the north country, to openly bid the job. It’s simple math: More competition leads to lower bids. However, Deputy Mayor Dan Skamperle is trying to dole out favors to his union friends by continuously pushing for a PLA on this project.

There have been numerous problematic projects conducted with the use of a PLA that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars. For successful wastewater projects that were conducted without a PLA, the City Council need look no further than their neighbors in Potsdam, Malone and Saranac Lake. Each of these municipalities allowed any qualified contractor to complete sound wastewater projects.

While flawed PLA studies are conducted in advance of a project to identify “alleged” savings, nothing is ever done after to determine if the savings were realized. Perhaps that’s because it would prove what we’ve been saying for years: PLAs don’t actually save anything and, in fact, cost more.

The City Council has already committed to wasting $21,000 for the study. Now it needs to take responsibility and quell the taxpayer burden by allowing everyone to bid work on this wastewater project, open and fairly.

Amanda Bertram

ABC Vice President of Public Affairs

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Union Requirement Inflates Cost of State Fair Bridge

By |May 23rd, 2019|Categories: News, Statewide|

A shortage of bids on the New York State Fairgrounds pedestrian bridge project will leave New Yorkers paying more, but getting less. When plans for the project were released with an accompanying project labor agreement (PLA), the playing field narrowed from 20 companies interested in the project to just two submitting bids, with the lowest bid coming in well in excess of $1 million over engineering estimates. Why the drastic decrease in competition and increase in costs? The answer can be found in three simple letters: PLA.

Another Voice: Benefits Add Hidden Costs to Prevailing Wage Projects

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Let’s not be fooled. Proponents of the expansion of prevailing wage are already doing great damage to taxpayers. They shouldn’t be allowed to ruin what little positive job growth we now have in New York.

Trade War: Find Out How The Tariffs Are Impacting New York Businesses and Consumers

By |May 17th, 2019|Categories: Federal Update, News, Statewide|

“What’s clear is that some contractors will have to deal with cost overruns that they can’t pass on to their customers,” said Brian Sampson, president of the Associated Builders & Contractors of New York. “But in most cases, the increased cost of the tariffs will be passed on to customers resulting in more expensive construction projects or higher costs for capital goods.”

First JCC Trades Training Class Graduates; Honored by Officials

By |May 13th, 2019|Categories: News, Statewide, Uncategorized|

The first class to complete the intensive 10-week, 40-hour construction training course offered by Jefferson Community College was celebrated at a recognition ceremony Friday at the Lewis County JCC Education Center.

Engineer Didn’t Prove That PLAs Save Money

By |April 24th, 2019|Categories: News, Statewide|

The PLA study, which cost Ogdensburg taxpayers $21,000, purports that with a series of false savings, labor consolidation and “management rights,” the project will save money. Yet no one challenged the study’s creator, Tim Seeler of Seeler Engineering, to positively prove those savings will be achieved. They also never asked him about the negative impact the lack of competition will have on the bidding process. They simply rubber-stamped the study and closed the door on local contractors and their employees.

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2019-02-11T12:46:17-04:00