Pennsylvania is building a series of jails around the Commonwealth and construction unions are lobbying hard to ensure discriminatory and costly PLAs on each jail. These sweetheart deals for Big Labor will funnel lucrative state construction contracts directly to unionized contractors and their union workforce with little to no competition from non-union contractors and the more than eight out of 10 Pennsylvania construction workers who do not belong to a union.
We wrote about the aburdity of the Pennsylvania’s Department of General Service (DGS) permitting Hill International to hire the union propaganda machine Keystone Research Centerto produce a PLA feasibility study on the Graterford State Prison Project (“Fox in the hen House,” 5/18).
We also blogged about The Pennsylvania Business Central report that PA Governor Ed Rendell wants PLAs on state prison construction (Big Labor’s Propaganda Machine to Decide Fate of Project Labor Agreements on PA Jail Construction , 6/2).
Yesterday The Lockhaven Express ran a story about a press conference held by State Senator Jake Corman in opposition to a proposed PLA on $200 million worth of construction for the State Correctional Institution at Benner Township, adjacent to the Rockview prison (Corman: Local contractors shut out of Rockview prison project,” 6/23).
Surrounded by contractors and hundreds of employees opposed to PLAs, Sen. Corman made a strong case against PLAs so the PA DGS and Governor Ed Rendel will not implement a PLA on this project.
Corman argued that use of PLAs on the job will deny many local companies the opportunity to bid and bring much-needed work to the county amid the nationwide economic downturn.
The Republican senator from Bellefonte said about 80 percent of the contractors and construction workers in Centre County have decided not to unionize, a right granted by the National Labor Relations Act.
Corman said the DGS, specifically its secretary, James Creedon, commissioned two surveys to determine if Centre County has a sufficient, nonunion workforce to build the prison, or if the project needs a PLA.
“Both the reports he commissioned say (a PLA) is not necessary in this area to complete this work in a timely fashion,” Corman said. “Was this done on a public policy perspective? Was this decision made on a business perspective? Or was this decision made on a political perspective?
“It is clear the use of a project labor agreement discriminates against 80 percent of the workforce and the workforce is simply asking for an opportunity to bid on a project,” he continued. “At a time when local businesses are sorely in need of new work to stimulate our local economy, it’s incomprehensible to me to shut them out of the process.”
Further, Corman said, giving more companies the opportunity to bid on a project naturally lowers prices.
Among the contractors on hand were Nancy Gibbons, president of R&R Construction, and Alison Kurtz, president of Ameron Construction.
Gibbons said the recession has left the entire construction industry “scrambling for contracts” to keep its employees working, and believes union affiliation should not be a determining factor in awarding publicly-funded construction contracts.
“Non-union companies have completed projects this size and magnitude on time and under budget,” she said. “All qualified contractors should be guaranteed equal opportunity for working on this project without discrimination.”
Kurtz said her business employs about 50 people, all non-union, and since the “collapse” of the housing market, it has become increasingly difficult for the firm to stay busy.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the governor’s decision to include a PLA on the Rockview prison job,” she said. “The use of a PLA virtually guarantees that my business and many of my competitors will be excluded from bidding on or working on this project.
“My workers will sit at home and watch as the state trucks in union workers from inside or outside the state to fill local construction jobs,” Kurtz continued. “The unintended result of the decision to use a PLA will be increased unemployment at home and increased construction costs for taxpayers. In this era of budget deficits, it’s unconscionable waste the taxpayers dollars.”
Will Governor Rendell and the PA DGS listen to constituents and promote the interests of all taxpayers by ensuring free and open competition on the Rockview prison project? TheTruthAboutPLAs.com hopes that politics and narrow special interests won’t trump common sense and fairness.
NO PLA on Rockview.