Project Labor Agreement Executive Order Will Harm Georgia Construction Workforce

0 September 7, 2009  Federal Construction, State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

Benita M. Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation writes in the La Grange Daily News (Georgia) about project labor agreements (PLAs) and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), two provisions at the top of construction unions’ agenda that stand to harm workers on Labor Day (“A Celebration that Needs Work,” 9/7).

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day celebration on Sept. 5, 1882, the labor movement that once championed the rights of the American worker is working just as hard to erode those hard-won gains. And unions’ euphemistically named efforts provide the evidence: the “project labor agreement” and the Employee Free Choice Act.

Across the nation, 13.8 percent of employees are union members. In the construction industry 15.6 percent of workers are unionized. At 3.7 percent, Georgia’s unionized work force of 151,000 is the second lowest in the nation. And according to the Union Membership and Coverage Database, available at, in 2008 just 5.6 percent of Georgia’s private construction workforce belonged to a trade union.

Those 14,700 union construction workers have the upper hand over 260,000 others – the more than nine out of 10 construction employees in Georgia not unionized – when it comes to federal “large-scale construction projects,” those costing the government at least $25 million. President Obama issued an executive order in February saying it is “the policy of the Federal Government to encourage executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects in order to promote economy and efficiency in federal procurement.” A project labor agreement is a “pre-hire collective bargaining agreement.”

The president also ordered the Office of Management and Budget to consult with the Labor Secretary on expanding that policy: Make “recommendations about whether the broader use of project labor agreements, with respect to both construction projects undertaken under federal contracts and construction projects receiving federal financial assistance, would help to promote the economical, efficient and timely completion of such projects.”

Whether government intervention has ever encouraged “economical, efficient and timely completion” of anything is questionable. What’s certain is government policies giving preference to union participation in projects will hike the cost and hinder competition in the private sector. The policy could force companies to engage unions, even in union-challenged states like Georgia, and hinder the ability of companies to reward or remove individuals on a job depending on their performance.

The author understands the unfair and costly impact Executive Order 13502 will have on Georgia’s construction workforce. Be sure to visit and read the entire article to learn more about the negative impact of EFCA on Georgia’s construciton workforce.

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