100 Days of the Obama Presidency: Remembering Executive Order 13502: Promoting Project Labor Agreeements

0 April 29, 2009  Federal Construction, Uncategorized

Today, April 29, marks the 100th Day of President Barack Obama’s presidency. This week the media has been churning out 100 day reviews of the Obama administration on diverse topics ranging from the Foreign Policy to Labor such as National Journal’s 4/25 piece, Labor Holds Its Fire. Despite Setbacks, Labor Leaders Have Greeted the New Administration as A Liberator.”

The article tempers Big Labor’s praise for President Obama’s pro-labor policies with their muted disappointment because the Orwellian named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), commonly known as Card Check legislation, has stalled in the Senate and the Obama administration is allegedly lukewarm in spending political capital to push EFCA through the Senate.

Invariably, union activists tick off the positive things that Obama has done, including signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which gives workers more time to file wage-discrimination suits; issuing three executive orders that boost organizing opportunities for federal employees; using more pro-union rhetoric than any other president has in decades; winning enactment of massive economic stimulus legislation to boost employment; and promising still more government spending on transportation and green jobs.

The author fails to mention President Obama’s gift to organized labor (and blow to the merit shop construction community) in Executive Order 13502.

Executive Order 13502, signed Feb. 6, 2009, encourages federal agencies to require PLAs on federal and federally funded construction projects in excess of $25 million. 

obama-signing-executive-order Jan 30

President Obama signing one of three pro-union Executive Orders January 30, 2009, one week before Executive Order 13502 was signed.

The Obama order also repealed President Bush’s Executive Orders 13202 and 13208 which prohibited federal agencies and recipients of federal financial assistance from mandating wasteful and discriminatory union-only PLAs on construction projects.

 Between 2001 and 2007, at least $123.1 billion worth of federal construction projects was bid without discriminatory and wasteful union-only PLAs thanks to the Bush executive order.  The actual value of construction projects protected by Executive Order 13202 is exponentially larger, as the above figure does not include 2008 federal construction put in place spending or state and local construction spending from 2001-2008 that received federal funding or assistance but was protected from government mandated PLAs by the order.

ABC strongly opposes government mandated union-only PLAs and released this Feb. 6 press release denouncing Executive Order 13502.

“Today’s decision to repeal Executive Order 13202 opens the door to waste and discrimination in federal and federally funded construction contracts,” said ABC President and CEO Kirk Pickerel. “This action removes the safeguards that prohibited discrimination based upon union affiliation in the awarding of federal contracts.

“Construction contracts subject to union-only PLAs are designed to be awarded exclusively to unionized contractors and their all-union workforces,” said Pickerel.

“Absent the economic benefits of competitive bidding, union-only PLAs are known to increase construction costs between 10 percent and 20 percent and discriminate against minorities, women and qualified construction workers who have traditionally been excluded from union membership.

“Union-only PLAs drive up costs for American taxpayers while unfairly discriminating against 84.4 percent of U.S. construction workers who choose not to join a labor union,” added Pickerel. “All taxpayers should have the opportunity to compete fairly on any project funded by the federal government.”

ABC will be monitoring this issue closely as the Obama order requires the FAR Council to issue implementing regulations within 120 days (June 6), and the Director of Office of Management and Budget is expected to provide the President, within 180 days of the date of the Order (Aug. 5), “with recommendations about whether broader use of labor agreements will promote economical, efficient, and timely completion of such projects.”

Be sure to look for more updates on TheTruthABoutPLAs.com about Executive Order 13502 as we get close to the June 6 and Aug. 5 deadlines.

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