Money For Nothin’

0 December 10, 2010  Federal Construction, Uncategorized

Bret Jacobson, a blogger on, reminds readers (Our Dire Straits: Money For Nothin’, 12/9/10) of a story reported earlier this week about taxpayer waste on the renovation of the Lafayette Federal Building in downtown Washington D.C.

As regular readers remember, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) paid a federal contractor at least $3.3 million as part of a change order adding a wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreement (PLA) to a $52.3 million renovation funded by the 2009 Stimulus bill. This was according to a column by Mark Hemingway in The Washington Examiner (“Mark Hemingway: Mandatory PLAs put tax dollars into union coffers,” Dec. 5).

Here are the highlights from Jacobson’s post:

It’s pretty clear the administration owes union bosses big, and the payoffs may take many forms. There was the failed attempt to push card check by legislation and now through the National Labor Relations Board. In the meantime, though, the administration is shelling out on smaller projects — such as today’s news of a $3.3 million gift to Big Labor to make a DC construction project union-only.

The story is a bit tough to follow because of federal contracting rules (click here for more details from The Truth About PLAs), but one thing is clear: taxpayers were forced to pay an extra $3.3 million after a project was already awarded just so it would carry a “project labor agreement.” That means no additional services, no higher quality, just the “value” of using union-only labor.

It also means we are paying for nothing at a time when both our long-term and immediate fiscal outlooks are in full crisis mode. The final kicker: the PLA in question made it more difficult to improve a building that houses the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And people wonder how the federal debt became such a problem…

This story was also covered on several outlets by Warner Todd Huston (“Another Big Labor Union Payoff: Obama Adds $3.3 Million to Construction Project,” 12/9/10), here are his thoughts:

The government is over spent. This single fact is beyond dispute. Even Democrats say so. We have but to recall that Democrat after Democrat attempted to run for office this last election by claiming fealty to small government, cost cutting, and lower spending. So with all this small government/low spending fever sweeping the political classes, what does Barack Obama do? He forces policies on federal building projects that inflates costs by the millions. And why would he do this? As a payoff to unions that gave him millions in campaign contributions, of course.

The latest bloated price tag for a federal project is that of the Lafayette Federal Building in Washington D.C., a project that has seen costs rise at least $3.3 million thanks to Obama’s payoffs to unions. That’s right in a day when we are drowning in government overspending, Obama is making sure costs rise, not insuring that they fall.

Barack Obama’s political tin ear is nowhere better revealed than in his constant payoffs to Big Labor. One of Obama’s very first actions, for instance, was to write an Executive Order that forced all government building projects to follow union marching orders in pay scale, work rules, and pension payouts by imposing Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on all of them.


Imagine being a non-union construction worker and being told that you are going to be forced to pay union dues even when you are not a member of the union. Imagine realizing as a worker that your hard earned wages are going to go to pay pensions for union members when you, yourself will never benefit from the very pensions you helped fund. Further imagine that the company you work for is going to take a cut in the profits it will make because of these same rules. Then you realize that your taxes are paying unions while you suffer as the costs for the projects you are working on are wildly inflated because of these PLA rules. And finally you come face-to-face with the singular fact that as a non-union worker, you are in the majority of all workers because union workers are less than 14 percent of your industry.

This is an example of the tyranny of the minority if there ever was one. As the Washington Examiner’s Mark Hemingway reports, only 14 percent of the construction labor force is forcing 86 percent to follow the rules of the minority. As in most of Obama’s policies, his PLA order helps out but a tiny minority and a minority that gave him millions in campaign donations to boot.

Learn more about this project and how taxpayers got a bad deal on our earlier post.

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