Minority contractor Harold Scott speaks out against proposed legislation to require community partnership agreements, otherwise known as wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs), on Baltimore City construction projects worth over $5 million in an editorials titled, “Baltimore Bill Hurts Minority Workers,” published April 7 by The Baltimore Sun.
Here are the highlights:
This bill is even more damaging to minority contractors. Baltimore proclaims that it is proud to “promote equal business opportunity … by encouraging full and equitable participation by minority and women’s business enterprises in the provision of goods and services,” but this legislation is squarely at odds with that goal. For local minority- and women-owned firms, whose employees have been historically underrepresented in terms of union affiliation, encouraging PLAs on all public projects will make it even more difficult for minority-owned contractors to compete.
The fact that only 5 percent of all minority contracting companies are union shops will result in a virtual lock-out of 95 percent of minority contractors from ever doing city business. Should this bill pass, Baltimore’s union-centered procurement policy will unfortunately result in a situation that the National Black Chamber of Commerce has described as “anti-free-market, noncompetitive and, most of all, discriminatory.”
The bill’s supporters say project labor agreements are necessary to make sure city residents get the opportunity to work on city-funded projects. But how does a bill that excludes almost nine out of every 10 local workers accomplish that goal? The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t.
As we have stated on this blog many times, PLAs have a sad history of discriminating against minority contractors and their employees.
Proponents of this measure claim that it will put people to work. The truth is it will only create opportunities for those with a union card, at the expense of Baltimore taxpayers and local workers.
If you live in Baltimore City, we urge you to contact your council members and urge them to say NO to wasteful and discriminatory PLAs.