The outcry over wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) continues in Indiana. The Indianapolis Star published yet another letter to the editor in response to their article, “An Ailing Process,” published on January 24.
This most recent letter, titled, “Provide Equal Opportunity,” was published February 2.
Provide Equal Opportunity
Thank you for the Jan. 24 article, “An ailing process?”, concerning the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on construction projects. While the article was fair and accurate, I believe it missed a key point.
It referred several times to J.R. Gaylor’s assertion that PLAs drive up construction costs. While I agree that they do, that is only part of the issue. Taxpayer dollars from publicly funded projects should not be steered to a select group of contractors and tradesmen. Less than a quarter of the construction work force in Indiana is unionized. Yet almost all of the recent high-profile, publicly funded construction projects have been governed by PLAs, steering that work to union contractors and workers. That leaves almost 80 percent of the available construction work force ineligible to benefit from these projects.
The PLA benefits cited (locking in wage rates and work rules in one negotiation, and barring strikes and walkouts) can easily be written into a contract without a PLA, which unnecessarily requires nonunion contractors to make benefit payments to the union for benefits that their nonunion employees never receive.
All qualified contractors and tradesmen should have an equal opportunity to benefit from public works projects.
This is the second letter to the editor that the Indianapolis Star has published in response to their January 24 story. We covered the other letter here.