Contractor Says PLA Would Be Business Suicide

0 March 13, 2010  State & Local Construction, Transportation & Infrastructure

A March 12 Albany Times Union letter to the editor refutes a March 6 letter to the editor that encourages the use of a controversial project labor agreement (PLA) on the Lake Champlain Crown Point Bridge (a PLA fight has covered here) by Robert J. Jones, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 106.

Richard Piasecki, President of the Castelton, NY Piasecki Steel Construction Corp. says “a PLA would be business suicide” and explains what a PLA would mean to his business and his employees.

“Robert J. Jones’ March 6 letter about the Associated General Contractors’ position on a project labor deal for the Crown Point Bridge is a self-serving half-truth.

My firm is one of many upstate open shop bridge construction companies. All our employees are New York residents. Jones is technically correct that a nonunion firm like ours could bid under a PLA. It is also technically correct that we could shoot ourselves in the foot.

A project labor agreement forbids us from using our own personnel and forces us to hire exclusively union labor, from whom we can expect little loyalty and more than a little militant animosity.

For firms like us to bid on a PLA would be business suicide. My employees as taxpaying state residents deeply resent being precluded from any public work employment opportunity based on union membership.

If this PLA is such an economic benefit, let’s have it as a bidding option. Let’s all see these supposed benefits in black and white when the bids are opened.”

Mr. Piasecki touches on one of the key issues at the heart of the PLA debate. PLA proponents like Big Labor representative Mr. Jones are afraid to compete in the free market, so they invent subjective reasons why a PLA will benefit the community and construction owners in their effort to obtain a virtual monopoly on a PLA construction project’s workforce.  Mr. Piasecki argues that if PLAs are so great and offer cost savings, why not prove it through competitive bidding?

When governments mandate a PLA, discriminatory and costly PLA provisions apply to all contractors, so those contractors that can offer the best possible product at the best possible price without a PLA never have the opportunity to prove it.  There is nothing wrong with contractors voluntarily entering into a PLA, but the government shouldn’t be tinkering with the competitive bidding process to reward special interests.

It’s good government suicide, too.

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