On November 2, San Diego County voters will vote YES on Proposition A, which amends the San Diego county charter to prohibit the county government from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign project labor agreements (PLAs) with construction unions. This measure will ensure that San Diego County taxpayers get the best quality construction at the best price.
There is so much buzz about this common-sense ballot initiative, The New York Times ran a story about Proposition A (“Taking a Vote on Union Construction,” 10/14/10).
The article is thorough and fair, as it visits common arguments for and against PLAs and Prop A. It also explains why PLAs increase costs, decrease competition and harm skilled non-union employees and their qualified employers. Give it a read.
Today, Fox News Channel’s Your World with Neil Cavuto invited Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego President Scott Crosby on the program to discuss Proposition A and PLAs. Check it out.
Cavuto and Crosby refer to union giveaways on federal projects via government-mandated project labor agreement schemes. Few Americans know that the Obama administration is encouraging federal agencies to use union-favoring PLAs on a case-by-case basis when agencies build federal construction projects costing more than $25 million.
It’s a controversial White House gift to Big Labor that is likely to increase federal construction costs, reduce competition from quality nonunion contractors and their skilled employees, and deny taxpayers the accountability they deserve from government.
Executive Order 13502: Obama’s Gift to Big Labor. Image by Elaine Natario courtesy of The Boston Globe, “Obama kowtows to labor unions,” 10/07/09.
On April 13, 2010, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council issued a final rule, effective May 13, implementing President Obama’s Feb. 6, 2009, pro-PLA Executive Order 13502 into federal procurement regulations. While not a mandate (that would be illegal and impractical), the regulation pushes federal agencies to use PLAs on federal projects.
An April 14 Wall Street Journal editorial blasted the final rule and government-mandated PLAs (“Crony Contracts. Want federal business? Better be a union shop.”):
“Only 15% of the nation’s construction workers are unionized, so from now on the other 85% will have to forgo federal work for having exercised their right to not join a union. This is a raw display of political favoritism, and at the expense of an industry experiencing 27% unemployment … It’s also a rotten deal for taxpayers.”
PLA Discrimination: Coming to a Town Near You!
The final rule did not address Section 7 of Executive Order 13502, which could expand PLAs onto federally assisted construction projects in your state and community (projects funded by local, state or private sources that receive some form of federal government loan, grant, tax break etc.). Here is language from Section 7 of Executive Order 13502:
The Director of the OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and with other officials as appropriate, shall provide the President within 180 days of this order, recommendations about whether broader use of PLAs, with respect to both construction projects undertaken under Federal contracts and construction projects receiving Federal financial assistance, would help to promote the economical, efficient, and timely completion of such projects.
Learn more about Section 7 here.
If you are concerned about PLA strings attached to federal construction dollars via Section 7 of Executive Order 13502, ask your local elected officials to pass legislation or organize a ballot measure similar to San Diego County’s Prop A. You can also write your governor and ask for a fair and open competition executive order or write your state elected officials to support legislation that ensures construction projects are procured without discriminatory and costly government-mandated PLAs. All of these options could provide a measure of protection against federal PLA mandates as well as encourage robust competition on construction projects exclusively funded by state or local tax dollars.
TheTruthAboutPLAs.com has published stories about Prop A debates and newspaper endorsements, but readers interested in learning more should visit the Yes on Proposition A web site at www.fairandopencompetition.com.
Visit the Proposition A Facebook: Yes on A: The Fair and Open Competition Initiative for San Diego County Facebook Page
View a video in support of Proposition A: YouTube – Fair and Open Competition – Yes on A
If you are concerned about federal government-mandated PLAs on federal projects, call or write your senators and representative and ask them to co-sponsor the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (S. 90/H.R. 983).
Please visit TheTruthAboutPLAs.com as we continue to provide analysis, commentary and links to media reports about private, local, state and federal PLAs and educate the public about the status of Executive Order 13502 and special interest handouts in public contracting via government-mandated PLAs.