Editorial: Removing PLA on VA Facility Good For Taxpayers

0 January 13, 2011  Federal Construction, Uncategorized

An editorial in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review praised the removal of government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA) on the construction of a $50 million U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Research Office Building in Pittsburgh and heavily criticized politicians and special interests participating in these anti-competitive and costly schemes (“The VA & PLAs: A welcome reversal,” 1/13/11):

Dropping inclusion of union-coddling project labor agreements (PLAs) from bidding requirements for a $50 million Veterans Affairs research office building in Pittsburgh is a step in the right direction — a direction in which all public construction projects must go for taxpayers’ sake.

The VA dropped the requirement — and said it won’t give preference to bids that include PLAs — after North Side contractor Bridges filed an October protest with the Government Accountability Office. Bridges had help from Associated Builders & Contractors, the local trade group that has sued over PLA requirements for Community College of Allegheny County and Penn Hills School District projects.

PLAs should not be part of public construction projects — period. Politicians use PLAs to reward unionized supporters, putting taxpayers on the hook for the higher costs that studies show PLAs impose. Project labor agreements also discriminate against nonunion workers’ — taxpayers who outnumber unionized workers — job opportunities.

The VA decision on the Oakland project must stick, becoming standard procedure for that agency. And the rest of government, at all levels, must follow suit. Taxpayers’ interests must come before those of extorting unions and the politicians who pander to them.

We agree.

BNA’s Construction Labor Report also covered this story with notable interviews from VA and GAO officials (“Contractor Protest Causes VA to Delete PLA Mandate from Research Building Bid Notice,” 1/12/11) [Note: Subscription Required]:

The Department of Veterans Affairs has made the use of a project labor agreement optional for all offers to construct a research building in Pittsburgh for the department after it withdrew a PLA mandate from the project’s bid solicitation, a department official told BNA Jan. 10.

 A Veterans Affairs spokesman told BNA that proposals submitted with PLAs on the project to construct the VA Research Office Building in Pittsburgh estimated to cost between $50 million to $100 million, will not be awarded any “additional points or weight” during the bid evaluation process. The spokesman said the decision applies only to this specific project. [snip]

A GAO attorney explains the bid protest and PLA withdrawal:

According to Ralph White, managing general counsel of GAO’s procurement law division, the protest was dismissed Dec. 9, 2010, because the VA decided to delete the PLA mandate from the bidding requirements. The Veterans Affairs chose to amend the bid solicitation after concluding that the protest filed by Bridges Construction might be sustained by the GAO, however GAO did not reach a final decision because the VA “decided to take corrective action,” White told BNA.

To learn more about the bid protest and victory for taxpayers and members of the construction community, please visit here.

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