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Project Labor Agreements Will Crush SUNY/CUNY Schools

The Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors ("ABC"), representing hundreds of merit-shop contractors and subcontractors employing hundreds of thousands of workers throughout New York, strongly opposes S.6050. This bill would mandate that all SUNY and CUNY construction projects over $3 million have a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) attached. If PLAs are mandated on these projects, tuition will rise, your taxes will increase, and there will be major delays to much-needed infrastructure projects all over the state.

In New York, a typical PLA forces contractors to hire most of their workforce from the union hall, usually 3 out of every 4. Suppose a local, qualified contractor is forced to use labor from the union hall instead of people they currently employ and are loyal to. In that case, they won't bid on the work. Fewer bidders mean more expensive construction; it's simple economics.

A study by Dr. Paul G. Carr, P.E., from Cornell University, illustrates what happens when the number of bidders on a project is reduced. The study looks at hundreds of public works projects in New York State and found that by reducing the number of bidders by just two on public projects, the construction cost will increase by more than 4%.

Paul Carr graph sized

These increases will only add to our state colleges' current problems. Much like New York, our colleges face a mass exodus problem; SUNY has reported a 20% decrease in enrollment over the last decade, and CUNY has seen a 17% decrease in half of that time. Will PLAs help improve campus buildings, hire more experienced staff, or expand tuition programs to help students? Unequivocally no.

This massive problem for the state won't be solved by throwing PLA fuel onto this fire. Investment in our education system is critical to every goal our government claims for New York, including stopping wasting our tax dollars on expensive mandates and allowing all companies to bid and work on construction projects.

The SUNY and CUNY systems are a part of the backbone of New York State. ABC unequivocally supports investment in our education system and our infrastructure. The backers of this bill don't respect their constituents enough to do the bare minimum research on the consequences of PLAs.

The only people who will benefit from PLAs on these projects are the union bosses and the officials in Albany who are on their payroll. Rejecting this terrible bill will be a step in the right direction for rebuilding New York.