A quick note from Utica, NY, where the Utica Board of Education approved a requirement that PLAs be implemented on $187.6 million of upcoming capital construction in the district. Utica’s Observe-Dispatch noted the following as a footnote to an unrelated story:
The board approved a project labor agreement setting construction workers’ wages for the $187.6 million capital project. Officials said the agreement has a potential savings of $2.6 million, and guarantees that there will not be a work stoppage because of labor disagreements.
Sounds like Big Labor propaganda to us!
Here is a quick reality check for the Utica Board of Education. It is highly likely that these projects will receive some kind of financial support from the state, which will trigger state prevailing wage requirements. In other words, state law will set workers’ wages.
Additionally, PLAs are NOT NECESSARY to prevent labor disruptions. As we have stated before, 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. Even construction union leadership admits that PLAs don’t deliver on the promise to prevent labor strikes or unrest.
And regular readers know that PLAs do not result in cost savings. This $2.6 million in cost savings simple Big Labor promised isn’t going to materialize. Quite the contrary, numerous studies show that wasteful and discriminatory PLAs increase construction costs by as much as 18 percent. In other words, for $187.6 million in proposed construction, PLA requirements could cost taxpayers approximately $33 million dollars of government waste.
Utica taxpayers simply can’t afford this kind of waste. PLAs are nothing more than a handout to a special interest group – Big Labor – that deprive taxpayers of the accountability they deserve.