In an outstanding letter to the editor published by the Trenton Times (“Building a Case Against PLAs,” 11/8/10), ABC New Jersey Chapter president Patrick Stewart lays out the facts about wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs). And interestingly enough, he gets some help from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Here are the highlights:
Building a case against PLAs
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development just released its FY 2008 findings on project labor agreements (PLAs).
PLAs are anti-competitive. They end open, fair and competitive bidding on public works projects. PLAs drive up the cost of construction by reducing competition and effectively excluding merit shop contractors and their skilled employees from building projects paid for by their own tax dollars.
The 2008 study further emphasizes the wasteful and discriminatory practices of PLAs in New Jersey.
Finding No. 2 of the study clearly points out: “School projects that used a PLA tended to have higher building costs, as measured on a per square footage and per student basis, than those that do not use a PLA.” In fact, they are 30.5 percent higher than for all non-PLA projects.
Finding No. 3 of the study proves: “PLA projects tended to have a longer duration than non-PLA projects.” For FY 2008, the average duration of PLA projects (12 of them) was 100 weeks compared with 78 weeks for non-PLA projects (60 of them).
In these tough economic times, we urge the Legislature and the Christie administration to end the anti-competitive practice of PLAs on construction projects in New Jersey.
The writer is president of the New Jersey Associated Builders and Contractors.
Just as the state teachers unions refused to give up their outsized compensation and benefit packages to adjust to staggering state budget deficits, the construction union bosses continue to demand that state and local projects be awarded only to contractors willing to recognize unions as the sole representative of their nonunion workers on a project, hire from union hiring halls and pay into often underfunded benefit programs from which their nonunion workers will likely never see any benefit.
The end result is decreased competition from contractors unwilling to give in to Big Labor’s demands and increased costs to taxpayers. In a state that continues to face staggering budget deficits, unnecessarily paying an additional 30 percent for state construction isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered.
UPDATE: This is not the first report from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development that highlights problems with PLAs. Check out these reports, which came to similar conclusions: