Reaching For the Big Labor Lifeboat

1 April 8, 2010  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

Another embattled governor has reached out for the Big Labor lifeboat.  On March 31, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn issued Executive Order 03 of 2010, which reaffirms former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s 2003 order essentially requiring wasteful project labor agreements (PLAs) on many state projects, and additionally, authorizes the state to use PLAs on federally assisted projects in the future.

The full text of the Quinn order is available here, but it turns out that you already have a good primer on it if you’ve already read the Blagojevich order from 2003.  It turns out that Gov. Quinn only made one small change to the Blagojevich order already in place (Emphasis added):

Where it has been determined that a project labor agreement is appropriate, and in furtherance of the President’s Executive Order 13502, the State department, agency, authority, board or instrumentality responsible for awarding the project may include a project labor agreement on a public works project funded in whole or in part with Federal funds.

So what does this order mean?  In terms of force and effect, very little.  President Obama’s Executive Order 13502 repealed existing federal policy that had prohibited PLAs on federally assisted construction work.  State and local government entities in Illinois and all other states can already mandate PLAs if they so choose, regardless of Gov. Quinn’s March 31 order.

Additionally, Gov. Quinn’s March 31 order doesn’t require Illinois state or local entities to mandate PLAs on projects that receive federal money (Neither does President Obama’s Executive Order 13502).  Quinn’s order simply states that contracting entities MAY require PLAs, which they were already at liberty to do.

So why waste the paper?  This order seems to have very little affect on existing law.

Gov. Quinn is the second embattled governor since February to issue a pro-PLA executive order.  As we’ve said before, executive orders encouraging or requiring the use of PLAs are nothing more than handouts to Big Labor in exchange for past or future political support.

Clearly, Gov. Quinn needs political support.  Several recent polls have found Gov. Quinn losing to his Republican rival State Sen. Bill Brady, despite Illinois’ history of electing Democrats to both federal and statewide office.  Additionally, Quinn is struggling to shed the political baggage of his predecessor, disgraced governor and now celebrity TV star Rod Blagojevich.

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It appears as though Gov. Quinn issued this order not to change state and local procurement policy, but to show construction union bosses that he has their back.  Like Gov. Culver’s order in neighboring Iowa, this order was issued to please a special interest group and their lobbyists at the expense of Illinois taxpayers.

This is further evidence of the old axiom that behind every push for PLA requirements is a politician seeking office.

Here at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com, we’re certainly not in the political advice business.  Nevertheless, it is pretty clear that following in the footsteps of Rod Blagojevich isn’t the way to get re-elected.  Americans are tired of the special interest handouts and backroom deals.  Grab your floatation device because the Big Labor-PLA lifeboat is sinking.

We strongly encourage Gov. Quinn to stand up for Illinois taxpayers and repeal Executive Order 03.

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