In a move designed to defend taxpayers against potential future wasteful and discriminatory Big Labor handouts, Lancaster County, PA commissioners approved a measure that will prohibit project labor agreements (PLAs) on locally-funded construction projects.
Here is a quote that sums up the issue by the measure’s sponsor, Chairman Scott Martin, as reported by FOX43 WPMT:
“As I see Project Labor Agreements starting to be utilized in other areas of the Commonwealth, I believe it is important that this action be taken to preserve fair and open contracting for government projects, ensure that we attain the most competitive costs for taxpayers and to offer a process that doesn’t exclude 85% of the workforce from competing for government projects,” stated Commissioner Martin, Chairman, Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.
Well put, especially if you review the numerous PLA-related issues that taxpayers and the construction workforce have encountered in Pennsylvania chronicled at length on this site.
This preemptive measure will guarantee that local taxpayers will get the best construction at the best price.
The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era also covered this ordinance in advance of its enactment. Here are some highlights (“Union Act Splits Lancaster County Commissioners,” 1/25/11):
State lawmakers the past few years have debated whether project labor agreements are appropriate for state construction contracts.
That debate is expected to intensify with the switch from former governor Ed Rendell’s administration — which supported such agreements — to Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration, which does not, according to Martin.
John R. Zimmer, president and CEO of Associated Builders & Contractors of Manheim, applauded Ordinance No. 99.
“More than it being a ban against labor agreements, it’s a statement for open contracting,” he said. “It’s a statement that there will be a level playing field, and, more importantly, it’s a statement that there will not be discrimination in Lancaster County, regardless of color, creed, gender, or union affiliation or not.”
Martin said his proposal is a “proactive action” to make sure Lancaster County taxpayers are not saddled with inflated costs for construction projects that require union labor.
“For me personally, I think there’s something very wrong that the state and federal government allow this to occur with public tax dollars,” he said.
This is a big win for local taxpayers and the 87 percent of America’s private construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor organization.
Congratulations Lancaster County and here is hoping that other counties follow suit.
UPDATE: The Keystone Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors has issued a press release commending the Lancaster County Council for their work. Here is the text:
Lancaster County Commissioners Act to Ensure Workforce Fairness
(MANHEIM) Keystone Chapter, Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. (ABC) – Lancaster County, led by Commissioner Scott Martin, passed an ordinance to ban the use of discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) on all county-funded construction projects. Ordinance number 99, introduced by Martin and seconded by Commissioner Stuckey, took a proactive approach to ensure that all contractors could bid on construction work and that all workers could work on projects.
Under typical PLAs, contractors who are successful at winning a bid must use union workers only to complete the job. In the rare cases in which a contractor is allowed to use his own workers, those workers must pay union dues and follow union work rules. With the passage of Ordinance 99, every qualified contractor can compete for, and be awarded work, without any requirement that the workers must belong to a union.
Jack Zimmer, ABC Keystone President & CEO, proclaimed “Lancaster County has a long tradition of hard working people who value fairness and the merit shop philosophy. I applaud the forward-thinking and actions of Commissioners Martin and Stuckey who saw fit to ensure that any worker, union or non- union, could work on Lancaster County tax funded work.” Zimmer went on to say that this was an historic vote. “This is the first time PLAs have been banned on the county level in Pennsylvania. This sends a strong statement that Lancaster County is open for business for all, and the needs of taxpayers regarding fiscal responsibility are respected. I sincerely hope other counties will follow suit. No matter what argument you put forth, it still comes down to fairness versus discrimination. Commissioners Martin and Stuckey made sure that message was loud and clear.”
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ABC Keystone, operating out of Rapho Business Park, Manheim, represents over 700 construction-related firms locally and is part of a national association with 75 chapters representing more than 23,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms nationwide. ABC Keystone members are involved in commercial, industrial, and institutional free enterprise construction throughout south central Pennsylvania.