By unanimous decision, the board overseeing the construction of the new $340 million University of Nebraska Haymarket Arena rejected Big Labor’s call for a government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA) on the arena’s construction. This is a significant win for local taxpayers and the 87 percent of the Nebraska construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union. The three-member board overseeing the construction of this project consists of Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, Lincoln City Councilwoman Jayne Snyder and University of Nebraska Regent Tim Clare.
Followers of TheTruthAboutPLAs.com know that Regent Clare has been a leader on this issue in recent weeks. After Regent Clare discovered that Big Labor had reached out to Mayor Beutler to insist that the Board require a PLA , Clare has vocally opposed any potential PLA. This opposition helped ensure that the taxpayers who approved the funding for this arena will get the best product for the best price.
Here is an excerpt from the Lincoln Journal Star article (“Arena Board Says No to Project Labor Agreements,” 6/25/10) covering the board’s decision:
Clint Burge, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and secretary-treasurer of the Lincoln Building and Construction Trades Council, asked the mayor to consider using a labor agreement on the arena. He and two other union representatives attended the JPA meeting Friday.
His request soon had the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln Independent Business Association lobbying the mayor not to use one.
Burge said after the JPA meeting that he was disappointed his request never got a fair airing but was immediately squashed after what he called political grandstanding.
“Nobody was pushing for a union-only project,” he said.
The mayor said the decision not to use a project labor agreement was a compromise, but in a letter to Snyder, who is chairwoman of the joint public agency board, he noted that all of the board’s votes related to arena construction must be unanimous. That gives each member veto power.
Clare had made it clear the issue was very important to him, and, earlier this week, Snyder said the issue was holding up arena work.
Beutler said the arena election brought together factions from all sides, and he didn’t want the union issue to divide them.
Beutler and Snyder were elected with strong support from unions: Beutler got more than $40,000 in campaign contributions from construction unions and Snyder $8,000.
Asked whether their decision was likely to affect union support in future elections, Burge said, “I have no idea.”
Haymarket arena construction oversight board, through allowing open competition to determine who works on this project, you guarantee that taxpayers get the accountability they deserve.
Thank you for having the courage to do what’s best for everyone in your community.