In an outstanding editorial published today (“Editorial: Fair Bids,” 12/7/10), the Detroit News calls on Michigan’s leaders to eliminate government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on state, local and university projects in the state.
Here are the highlights:
The contractors association says that some state universities, community colleges and local units of government are requiring their capital project bidders to enter into these project labor agreements as a requisite for making a bid. The quid pro quo for such an agreement is that the union agrees not to strike. But in an economy with a 13 percent unemployment rate, striking on the public’s dime ought to be grounds for immediately abrogating a contract.
If local governments that receive revenue-sharing or float bonds through the state or state-funded universities want to engage in a building project, they ought to seek the best work at the best price — whether from a unionized firm or a nonunion firm. There should be no favoritism either way.
When Rick Snyder becomes governor, he ought to handle the issue with an executive order. The new Legislature can then craft legislation that states that public construction projects are to be with an eye to the needs of all taxpayers.
In a state where leaders are struggling to create an environment to foster job creation, giving taxpayer-financed special interest handouts to Big Labor isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Michiganders voted for change on November 2. After watching eight failed years of a career politician at the helm, voters picked an outsider who knows how the get the economy moving again.
One way to fix the state’s budget problem and create jobs is to ensure that taxpayers get the best public construction at the best price. No exceptions. We urge Gov-Elect Rick Snyder, Michigan’s tough nerd-in-chief, to stand up against the powerful construction union bosses and say no to PLAs.
Michigan needs to put people back to work and getting four schools for the price of five isn’t going to get it done.