Bad Choices All Around
Saratoga Springs, NY is in the midst of a budget crisis and hoping federal stimulus money for construction can spur the local economy. The only problem is the 2008 New York Wicks Law “reform” may force Saratoga Springs into a wasteful and discriminatory union-only PLA.
In 2008, New York “reformed” their Wicks Law, which is an archaic and unpopular procurement law that requires individual, trade-specific contracts for construction projects worth more than a defined threshold amount. For years, many municipalities claimed that Wicks Law increased construction costs and needed reform to decrease those costs and increase competition. During the 2008 legislative session, as part of an 11th hour deal, Wicks Law was altered in a manner that left just about everyone unhappy with the outcome – except for organized labor.
While the deal raised the monetary thresholds that triggers the requirement that public construction contracts to be divided, you can circumvent Wicks by utilizing a project labor agreement. That sounds more like a union handout than real “reform.”
Saratoga Springs’ new construction is now subject to either the archaic and costly Wicks formula or wasteful and discriminatory union-only PLAs. In a part of the country that needs to squeeze every last job out of the stimulus package’s construction spending, state law will force Saratoga Springs into a wasteful procurement method one way or another.