More Coverage of Federal Project Labor Agreement in New Hampshire

0 October 8, 2009  Federal Construction, Uncategorized

The media continues to take interest in the government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA) on the U.S. Department of Labor’s new $35 million Job Corps center in Manchester, New Hampshire

The Concord Monitor ran a piece that features a quote from a qualified New Hampshire nonunion business, demonstrating that a PLA cuts competition (“Builder Confronts Union Law,” 10/8).

At least one New Hampshire company has withdrawn its stake in the project as a result of the labor agreement requirement. Pro Con Construction in Hooksett had put its name on a list of interested bidders early on.

The company is too large to qualify, but Executive Vice President Dan Dal Pra said it could have entered into a joint venture with a smaller contractor. The requirement for a labor agreement ruled that out.

“It would require that we change our whole way of doing business,” Dal Pra said. “It’s a good-sized job, and it seems that it’s a shame to cut out qualified contractors because they’re not union.”

The Washignton Examiner’s follow-up piece to this by Barbara Hollingsworth chronicles how PLAs discriminate against local and qualified construction employees (“NH firm files protest with GAO over PLA,” 10/7).

Ken Holmes, president of North Branch Construction, told The Examiner that “one of the requirements of the bid is that it is subject to a PLA, which very specifically requires general contractors to use exclusively union workers. But virtually every major contractor and subcontractor in New Hampshire is non-union. This basically knocks all of us out of the ballgame. We believe it’s discriminatory and violates the federal Competition in Contracting Act.”

Like all federally financed projects, Holmes says, the project is already required to pay Davis-Bacon wages. “Problem is, none of our employees could work on the job if the PLA stays on the contract.”

Holmes says his employees are “outraged” at being shut out of a construction project in their own state. “We all pay our federal taxes. With unemployment skyrocketing in New Hampshire over the last year and a half, they’d like to be able to work on a project right here,” Holmes said. “PLAs are special interest handouts that deny taxpayers the accountability they deserve from government contracts.”

Well said Ken Holmes. Executive Order 13502 and government-mandated PLAs are bad public policy.

The Union Label blog (“Obama’s Stimulus for Unions,” 10/8) provides an interesting persepctive about what a PLA means to taxpayers.

But even worse than that, these forced union sops will drive up the costs of the project, cause delays, and fill the pockets of corrupt union officials. So the federal dollars going to these projects will not be cost effective. It should be also remembered that these projects are being funded by the taxpayers.

In the end, this is neither about jobs, nor stimulus. In truth, this is simply a massive payoff from Obama to his supporters in the unions made at the expense of the national treasury as well as the exclusion of New Hampshire’s successful small businessmen.

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