The construction industry is still waiting for the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council to issue a final rule on regulations that promote project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects exceeding $25 million, as directed by President Obama’s Feb. 6, 2009 Executive Order 13502.
After months of intense opposition and no comment from the White House or action by federal regulators, rumors circulated within the construction industry that the White House had quietly backed away from this discriminatory and costly special interest policy.
Project Labor Agreements and Other Executive Orders
One of the first actions taken on behalf of the Middle-Class Task Force was President Obama’s signing of Executive Order (EO) 13502 encouraging executive agencies to consider using project labor agreements (PLAs) when they engage in large-scale construction projects. Project labor agreements are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements withone or more labor organizations that establish the terms and conditions of employment for a specific constructionproject. The use of a project labor agreement can provide structure and stability to large-scale construction projects. PLAs also help ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing safety and health, equal employment opportunity, and labor and employment standards. The coordination achieved through PLAscan significantly enhance the economy and efficiency of Federal construction projects.
Along withassisting the preparation and signing of the EO, the Task Force recognized that it was not enough simply to sign the EO encouraging the use of PLAs; we needed to help promote their appropriate use by agency contracting offices, most of whom had little knowledge of, or experience with, PLAs. To boost implementation of the President’s order, the Task Force convened an inter-agency PLA Working Group to provide technical assistance to agencies on PLAs. The working group currently includes the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Interior, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the General Services Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget.
Building on the Department of Energy’s successful use of PLAs to effectively coordinate large construction projects, other agencies are investigating the benefits of PLAs, and we expect to see increased utilization of Project Labor Agreements in the future.
There’s no mention in the report about Section 7 of Executive Order 13502, which would push PLAs on federally-assisted projects, and there is no indication when the FAR Council will issue a final rule implementing Executive Order 13502 into procurement regulations.
However, this 1/20/10 Department of Defense document on open FAR cases provides some insight into the status of the FAR Council’s final rule on FAR Case 2009-005:
01/20/2010 DAR staff tasked Acquisition Law Team to draft final FAR rule. Report due 02/03/2010 (4th Extension).
TheTruthAboutPLAs.com remains opposed to government-mandated PLAs and Executive Order 13502 and will continue to monitor the latest news related to these backroom deals that reward Big Labor for their political support.
And as if there was ever any doubt, here is one more piece of evidence demonstrating that Big Labor’s special interests are behind Executive Order 13502.
The Dec. 11, 2008 AFL-CIO Recommendations for the Obama Administration related to Procurement and Regulatory Policy, posted at the Obama-Biden Transition Project’s website, calls for the following:
Project Labor Agreements. The new administration should immediately repeal Executive Order 13202 as amended by E.O. 13208. The Executive Orders, signed on February 17 and April 8, 2001, respectively, revoked Executive Order 12836 of February 1, 1993, as well as the Presidential memorandum of June 5, 1997 entitled “Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects.”These executive orders should be immediately revoked, and at a later date a new executive order should be issued promoting appropriate use of project labor agreements on federal and federally-funded construction projects.
It is amazing to see how many of those recommendations have already been implemented (E.O. 13494, E.O. 13496, E.O. 13495, Buy American Provisions in government contracts ARRA, T-1 rule revision) or are being reviewed by the White House (responsible contractor policy).