PLA Basics: Unions Offer Project Labor Agreements as a Solution to Strikes Created by Union Members

0 May 7, 2009  Uncategorized

Construction unions market union-only PLAs as a tool to construction owners to guarantee labor peace on construction projects.

Unions know that strikes, work stoppages, slowdowns and other labor unrest can shut down a jobsite and delay the opening of a project, potentially costing construction owners lost revenue.  Union negotiators leverage the threat of union-led strikes to obtain a PLA with terms and conditions that benefit union workers and contractors and eliminate competition from merit shop contractors.

It flirts with extortion and is particularly unsettling because non-union workers – those that are effectively eliminated from PLA projects – don’t engage in strikes or jobsite unrest.

But the simple truth is that PLAs don’t prevent union strikes or labor unrest on jobsites.  Even construction union leadership admits that PLAs don’t deliver on the promise to prevent labor strikes or unrest.

Joseph Hunt, the President of the Ironworkers Union, devoted his President’s Page column (“Ironworkers Have Tradition and Honor in Project Labor Agreements“) in the February 2008 edition of The Ironworker to inform the Ironworkers Brotherhood that:

“Once again, it is my duty to inform you there has been an increase in work stoppages on jobs governed by project labor agreements.”

“A No Work Stoppage-No Lock Out clause is the most important because it is the foremost reason owners and contractors are willing to use the agreement [a PLA] to commit to an all-union job.”

“They [owners] have a choice and they know that the non-union do not have jurisdictional disputers nor do they have strikes.”

These comments from a union president are important because it debunks two myths perpetuated by unions:

MYTH: PLAs prevent work stoppages.

MYTH: PLAs do not mean an all-union job – “Anyone can work and bid on a PLA!”

Those familiar with PLAs know both of these claims are misleading and untrue, but they are continually repeated by PLA proponents when convincing private owners and elected officials to utilize PLAs.

FACT: PLAs do not prevent labor strikes or jobsite labor unrest. believes that union-only PLAs are a solution in search of a problem created by construction unions.

Send us a tip and let us know the next time Big Labor breaks their promise and strikes on a PLA project.  We promise to investigate and report it here.

The public deserves to know the truth.

Update: Here is a post about projects that experienced strikes despite a PLA.

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