Another Albany Times Union letter to the editor (“Bid project for bridge both ways,” 3/15) 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 TheTruthAboutPLAs.com has covered here) by Robert J. Jones, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 106.
Jeffrey J. Zogg, CEO of Associated General Contractors of NYS makes some compelling arguments against Jones:
Of course there is a swift need for construction of this bridge. Nobody wants progress on this project more than we do. Contractors and their employees need the work.
A government-mandated project labor agreement was proposed by the building trades unions. PLAs are a highly controversial subject in the construction industry. Did they expect that wouldn’t be the case here?
Yes, prevailing wages will be paid on this work. They are required on all public work in New York and by law they are the union wage rates. Why then do we need a PLA?…
…Yes, all capable contractors can bid on PLA projects, but those who do not employ union labor usually don’t. The PLA precludes them from using most of their own long-standing employees. The unions argue that all can bid, when they know that most open shop bidders will not, which is really their goal.
Yes, this project should be built by skilled tradespeople from upstate New York and Vermont. But the PLA will deny those very local workers who are not unionized the opportunity. In the project region, there are more open shop workers than union workers. Which public official is going to tell them they can’t work on this project?
The best solution to ensure that all interested contractors can compete for the project, all available local workers can have the opportunity to work on it and the taxpayer can achieve the best price is to bid the project both ways. If the PLA is truly more economical, we will find out.
TheTruthAboutPLAs urges the NYSDOT to reject the special interest PLA on this project. Free and open competition will deliver the best construction product at the best price and create jobs for all construction employees, regardless of labor affiliation.