Baltimore City Solicitor Opposes Baltimore Project Labor Agreement Ordinance

0 July 23, 2010  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

“For the reasons listed above, the Law Department does not approve the bill for form and legal sufficiency.”

That is the legal opinion of Ashley H. Brown, Baltimore’s Assistant Attorney Solicitor, on controversial legislation (Bill No. 10-0455) before the Baltimore City Council that would require the city to include government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) in all contracts for construction projects with a total cost of $5 million or more in which Baltimore has a certain financial role. has been commenting on media coverage and exposing the problems with this bill for months.

Readers can follow the progress of the bill,  An Ordinance Concerning Project Labor Agreements Community Partnership Agreements (Bill No. 10-0455) here.

Because the public recognizes that anti-competitive and costly government-mandated PLAs are special interests schemes (created by Big Labor and politicians that rely on Big Labor’s campaign cash and support) that funnel lucrative public works contracts to unionized contractors and their union employees, Baltimore’s Big Labor bosses had to put lipstick on a pig and give PLAs a new name: Community Partnership Agreements.

Baltimore Big Labor Bosses are marketing this special interest legislation as a way to guarantee local hire through “Community Partnership Agreements” but the real purpose of the legislation is to create jobs exclusively for union members (even if they are not from Baltimore), at the expense of Baltimore’s skilled and qualified nonunion workforce and businesses.

The price is steep for taxpayers too, as they will foot the bill for the increased costs resulting from the inefficient union work rules and anti-competitive terms and conditions in typical PLAs. If taxes aren’t raised, taxpayers can expect to receive fewer schools, bridges, hospitals and other infrastructure improvements because of Big Labor excess.

Assistant Solicitor Brown’s opinion shoots down the bill for the following reasons:

  1. The Local Hiring Preference language in the bill violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution.
  2. The bill interferes with the City’s Charter-mandated procurement process.
  3. The bill’s “blanket PLA requirement language” is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.
  4. The bill’s mandate that contractors on covered projects use union hiring halls as their primary source of labor restricts a private employer’s right to select employees.

Context is everything, so be sure to read the opinion. thinks this legal opinion could be the final nail in the coffin of this bad special interest legislation. It may also apply to other school districts, towns, counties and cities considering similar pro-PLA legislation.

For readers following similar pro-PLA legislation introduced before the DC Council by the same Big Labor Bosses, this opinion is very relevant to the fate of that job-killing, cost-raising, discriminatory legislation.

Update: On Thursday, July 29 at 4:00 PM, the Baltimore City Council is holding a hearing on this bill,  An Ordinance Concerning Project Labor Agreements Community Partnership Agreements (Bill No. 10-0455), at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School (#414) – Auditorium, 1400 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231. Come on out and voice your opinion in support of free and fair competition and send this lipsticked piggy to the hot dog factory.

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