Issues - Labor
Project Labor Agreements: Get the Facts
Lately, a lot misinformation has been circulating about project labor agreements (PLAs). Here are the facts: A project labor agreement is a market-based tool that sets the rules and expectations for management and workers and as a result, projects with PLAs come in on-time and on-budget.
PLAs don't require projects to only hire union workers--they are simply a tool for taxpayer accountability. PLAs do require the use of trained workers and safety standards for contractors. Studies show that opponents’ claims that PLAs drive up costs are simply untrue. In fact, Phase 1 of the Dulles Rail project utilized a PLA. The project is ahead of schedule, under budget, and has the best safety record of any construction project in Virginia. The new Springfield interchange (I-95 & I-495) is being constructed without a PLA. That project is three times over budget, way behind schedule, and there have been 5 fatalities on the job.
Using a PLA DOES NOT
- Require workers on the project to join the union.
- Increase the costs of a project. The point of the PLA is to lock in and contain costs after the final price tag is settled. Contracts are still awarded to the lowest bidder.
- Force the workers to pay any fees if they train at a local union hall.
- “Limit competition” as some groups and officials have falsely claimed. Non-union contractors CAN and HAVE bid on PLA projects and WON the contract.
- Prevent Virginia workers from working on the project. In fact, it does quite the opposite by using local hiring halls and creating opportunities for Northern Virginia workers.
- Require the use of union-only labor, or give favoritism to union contractors. PLAs are open to ALL contractors.
- Serve as a taxpayer protection and create accountability on megaprojects where millions of dollars are at stake
- Guarantee local workers on local projects
- Guarantee that workers are trained properly and have all the necessary certifications
- Guarantee projects are done on time and on budget
- Provide exemptions for subcontractors, do not require them to use the PLA
- Guarantee Minority and WMB Participation on projects with set-asides
- Guarantee critical healthcare benefits to the workers
- Prevent megaproject DISASTERS like the Springfield Interchange which DID NOT USE A PLA and had massive cost overruns and deaths on the project
- 2009 study from Cornell University found that PLAs do not drive up project costs.
- August 2010 Report: Building Better - A Look at Best Practices for the Design of Project Labor Agreements by Dr. Dale Belman of Michigan State University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and Matthew Bodah of the University of Rhode Island’s Schmidt Labor Research Center.
- December 2011 study on San Diego Unified School District Project Stabilization Agreements
From the Progressive Point: