A 4/24 article in the Lansing State Journal reports budget busting bids and a lack of bidders on the estimated $1.6 million Lansing City Market project that will be built using a union-only PLA thanks to a requirement by Lansing City Officials.
The Lansing City Market project will be re-bid and opened to a broader base of contractors after bids came in as much as $600,000 to $700,000 over budget, officials said.
The LSJ reports that the new bids, made with modifications that may entice more bidders, will be re-opened May 4.
The five eligible general contractors on the project were called into a meeting Monday and notified that bidding would be open to subcontractors outside the tri-county area. Previously, the city had tried to steer jobs toward local workers in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties.
A 5/4 letter to the Lansing State Journal astutely points out that the Lansing State Journal article (and this Lansing State Editorial) missed key reasons why the bids from this project came in over budget:
Labor rules hurt Lansing
The LSJ’s April 25 story regarding the re-bid of the City Market project misses the key reason why few bids were received in certain construction categories. There are plenty of qualified contractors in the tri-county area; however, the city has shut out more than 80 percent of the local construction work force due to the Project Labor Agreement requirement.
The past arguments given in support of the PLA was to promote local workers. Apparently, from this example, that is not the case. The city would rather bring in union workers from outside the area instead of qualified non-union workers here.
Workers on city projects must be paid prevailing wages whether or not they are union. These wages and benefits are equal to or, in some cases, exceed those paid by the unions. By signing a PLA, a non-union company is forced to pay into the union for benefits their employees may already receive. The workers will never receive anything that was paid into the union for them unless they actually join.
Lose the PLA!
Unfortunately for concerned taxpayers like Mr. Berry and the 76 percent of Michigan’s 2008 private construction workforce that do not belong to a labor union, Lansing City officials and labor unions are more concerned with bringing in out-of-area union labor than giving jobs to qualified LOCAL non-union labor hired by merit shop contractors.
And now it is time for another lesson in PLA Basics:
Fact: Union-only PLAs harm local workers.
Big Labor and their political cronies are quick to promote PLAs as a tool to guarantee local jobs for local taxpayers. But they are speaking with forked tongues because their definition of “local workers” excludes local non-union workers.
On PLA projects in construction markets where the demand for union labor is greater than the supply, union workers from outside the local area are given preference over qualified and available local non-union workers.
Check back for an update once the latest Lansing City Market bids are opened. We will be following this case closely.