As the D.C. Council studies the misleadingly named District Resident Employment and Trade Stimulus Act of 2010 (Bill 18-650), which would require project labor agreements (PLAs) on D.C. construction projects that cost more than $200,000 and receive government assistance, an Op-Ed in The Washington Business Journal by Roderick L. Woodson debunks common myths promoted by Big Labor in support of government-mandated PLAs (“Job training, not PLAs, is what’s needed for D.C.,” 4/30).
Woodson deftly counters each of Big Labor’s pro-PLA arguments on strikes, wages and benefits, local hire and project costs. Finally, Woodson explains why Big Labor is promoting PLAs in the District:
So, why are PLAs so important to trade unions? The simple fact is that workers no longer need trade unions to do well, and workers know it. That is why trade union membership is so low in our region and nationally only about 15 percent. If the trade unions cannot get governments to impose the mandatory membership requirement contained in PLAs, trade unions would see their already dire financial situation worsen with the continued decline in membership and dues paying. Just one example: Union pension programs are woefully underfunded and face collapse without a substantial boost in membership and the related dues deductions collected by unions from worker wages.
As we have said before, federal and local government-mandated PLAs in the District have a record of poor performance and just don’t make sense. Instead of anti-competitive and costly PLA schemes that funnel public construction contracts to Big Labor, Mr. Woodson offers a solution that will help District residents:
What D.C. policymakers really need to focus upon are workforce development initiatives for our communities, like those outlined in the report “Closing the Gaps to Build the Future — Improving Workforce Development in the National Capital Region” from the Washington Council of Governments (January 2010), and not simply proposals for D.C. to impose trade union project labor agreements. In today’s economy, trade unions and PLAs have become an anachronism whose time has already come — and gone.
Be sure to read the entire Op-Ed and the Washington Council of Governments Jan. 2010 report.