The latest salvo in the fight for common sense – as opposed to union favoritism – to drive public construction contracting is taking place in Indiana, where state lawmakers have introduced legislation to end wasteful and discriminatory government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on state and state funded construction once and for all.
The bill (H.B. 1010) was introduced by Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) and referred to the House Labor and Employment Committee, where it is likely to die without getting serious consideration by the committee before the Indiana General Assembly adjourns in March.
Why would the committee fail to seriously consider legislation that would save the taxpayers money on state construction and ensure that the 80 percent of the Indiana construction workforce that decided not to join a labor union has the opportunity to compete for projects paid for by their own tax dollars, you ask?
Let’s check the Indianapolis News Channel 6 coverage of the bill’s introduction:
The bill, now in committee, is in the hands of Rep. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, a plumber who records indicate received campaign contributions from unions.
“As labor and employment chair, on this one I can say, ‘Not on my watch,'” Niezgodski said. “I’ve never seen any evidence that a PLA hurts other workers’ chances or businesses’ chances of being involved in a project.”
Niezgodski said PLAs help keep jobs on time with fewer work-related injuries. He denied that the reason he won’t allow the bill to be heard has anything to do with union connections, but more about time.
Wait, really? We also suspect Chairman Niezgodski doesn’t believe that PLAs increase construction costs either.
The PLA issue has come to the forefront in Indianapolis recently in response to a PLA on the $750 million Wishard Memorial Hospital project. Indianapolis News Channel 6 reports on December 29 that hospital officials believe the PLA will help them complete the project on time and on budget.
But PLAs don’t exactly have the best track record in Indiana.
Here’s another except from News Channel 6’s December 29 coverage:
But contractors fired back on Tuesday, pointing to a number of major city projects that suffered notorious cost and time overruns, even with a PLA in place.
Conseco Fieldhouse came in $8 million over budget, while construction on the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library was more than two years behind schedule and ran $50 million over budget.
“It’s mostly a political deal. The taxpayers are really not protected,” said JR Gaylor, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors, an organization that represents many non-union shops. “The facts don’t seem to support his (Matt Gutwein, CEO of Health and Hospital Corp., which operates Wishard) contention that this is good for the taxpayer.”
This PLA is a terrible deal for everyone except for Big Labor and their political allies. Catch a full media overview on Wishard Memorial Hospital project here.
Additionally, please contact Chairman Niezgodski and tell him that Indiana’s taxpayers deserve the best construction product for the best price. H.B. 1010 deserves a open hearing in the Indiana House Labor and Employment Committee.