The public continues to cover the Obama administration’s controversial final rule encouraging federal agencies to require project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects costing more than $25 million. It’s a sop to Big Labor that is sure to increase construction costs, cut competition and inject some Chicago-style cronyism into the federal construction procurement process.
A Washington Examiner anti-PLA editorial reveals the implications of costly PLAs on taxpayers and exposes the symbiotic relationship at the root of government-mandated PLAs between Big Labor and their political benefactors (“Another Obama Favor for Unions,” 4/14):
By eliminating the vast majority of potential bidders on federal construction projects, Obama guarantees two things. First, the projects will cost taxpayers more because union labor is always more expensive. And with mandated PLAs, the cost premium for union contractors will be even greater because fewer bidders always means less competition and higher prices. Second, by guaranteeing unions a bigger stream of federal contracts, Obama is making sure that Big Labor, already among the Democrats’ biggest sources of campaign cash, will have even more money to hand out for the 2010 and 2012 elections. You scratch our back with taxpayers dollars gleaned through PLA-based federal construction jobs, and we’ll scratch your back with campaign contributions. That’s the way it works in Obama’s business-as-usual Washington. It’s also known in some quarters as “the Chicago Way.”
Matthew Moon over at the Republican National Committee’s GOP.com blog explains the implications of government-mandated PLAs on federal construction contracts and mocks a flimsy thesis that PLAs are “a better deal for all” by a Chief Economic Advisor to Vice President Biden (“Obama’s “Hurt-The-Middle-Class” Task Force,” 4/14):
The truth is PLAs are nothing but another layer of bureaucracy that steers government contracts toward unions at the expense of the middle class.
In addition to blackballing the large majority of construction workers who do not belong to unions, the added costs that the regulation would impose will effectively price small and minority-owned businesses out of competition on federal construction projects. We fail to see how rigging federal contracts to deliver millions to union campaign donors helps the middle class, but then again, we know this President never misses a chance to bow to his union paymasters.
The GOP.com blog published an AM post about the pro-PLA final rule with this headline:
The research under the headline is worth a read as it demonstrates how PLAs are a cozy addition to the recent and numerous Big Labor boss bailouts.
Other notable links:
- FoxNews.com: Construction Groups Decry Obama’s New Union Friendly Policy for Federal Projects
- A brief piece from Engineering News Record (ENR.com)
- Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Newsline article on final rule: PLAs Encouraged On Federal Construction Projects Under Final Rule
- ABC member Brett McMahon explains the impact of the federal PLA rule on contractors on CNBC’s Power Lunch TV program.
- In a later CNBC Power Lunch segment, Austan Goolsbee, chief economist on the White House Recovery Advisory Board, whiffs on a curveball question about PLAs from a Power Lunch host at approx. the 5:10 mark. Goolsbee hits the WH talking point about “better wages” (the same point Mr. McMahon showed to be irrelevant to the PLA debate in his earlier anecdote about the Davis-Bacon Act) and then awkwardly pivots to non sequitur financial reform talking points. That was uncomfortable, wasn’t it?
To be fair, Goolsbee wasn’t prepared to speak about the PLA issue, but then again, the misguided promotion of PLAs by Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden and Executive Director of the Middle Class Working Families Task Force, demonstrates that it is difficult to spindoctor PLAs as a benefit to the public rather than a special interest handout to Big Labor (“Project Labor Agreements: A Better Deal for Big Labor All,” 4/12).