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PLAs should be outlawed

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 19, 2011 04:58 PM


Graphic via The Truth about PLAs

I’ve written before about Project Labor Agreements — Big Labor’s blunt instrument used to give unions a leg up in contracting. This racket needs all the exposure it can get.

As previously noted, PLAs in theory set reasonable pre-work terms and conditions — but in practice, require contractors to hand over exclusive bargaining control; to pay inflated, above-market wages and benefits; and to fork over dues money and pension funding to corrupt, cash-starved labor organizations. These anti-competitive agreements undermine a fair bidding process on projects that locked-out, nonunion laborers are funding with their own tax dollars. And these PLAs benefit the privileged few at the expense of the vast majority: In the construction industry, 85 percent of the workforce is nonunion by choice.

Recently, states have undertaken the PLA reform that Washington refuses to do.

The Truth about PLAs and the WSJ look at the latest trend:

This editorial touches on a couple of key points. In addition to detailing how PLAs increase construction costs and discriminate against the 87 percent of the construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor organization, it outlines what has become a national trend in the last 12 months. In state after state and community after community, Americans are standing up to demand the best construction at the best price for their hard-earned tax dollars. These demands are showing up at the ballot box in places like Chula Vista and San Diego County in California, where voters overwhelmingly approved ballot initiatives banning government-mandated PLAs on local projects. In places like Iowa, Maine and soon Michigan, taxpayers’ desire for fair and open competition is being expressed through their governors and state legislators. Regardless of the method, sensible taxpayers are taking important steps to guarantee value on public construction projects.

The Wall Street Journal also reminds us that the threat of Section 7 of Executive Order 13502 looms large as the 2012 presidential election approaches. Regular readers remember that Section 7 of the order requires: “The Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and with other officials as appropriate, shall provide the President within 180 days of this order, recommendations about whether broader use of project labor agreements, with respect to both construction projects undertaken under Federal contracts and construction projects receiving Federal financial assistance.”

While we have clearly passed the 180-day deadline set by the order, there is still reason to believe that the Obama administration could take action on Section 7 in the next 18 months. It is clear that bid protests, other legal impediments and public pressure have kept the Obama administration from implementing as many government-mandated PLAs as they expected and section 7 of Executive Order 13502 allows the administration to provide a tasty handout just in time for Big Labor to support President Obama’s re-election campaign. We saw this same cycle occur at the state level where embattled incumbent governors in Iowa, Illinois and Massachusetts either issued executive orders encouraging state agencies to require PLAs or used other methods to encourage the use of government-mandated PLAs on high profile construction projects with the obvious intent of currying favor with the construction union bosses.

It’s time to break the cycle.

***

It’s also time to call union-backed Republicans out for supporting these rackets.

Let’s start with calling out Thad McCotter.

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