According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, yesterday U.S. Representative Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) filed an amendment pertaining to government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on the Continuing Resolution legislation currently being debated on the House floor that would fund the federal government from March 4 through Sept. 30, the end of the current federal fiscal year (“Guinta: Ban pro-union labor agreements from federal construction projects,” 2/15/11).
Rep. Guinta’s amendment No. 166 says:
“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enter into, after the date of the enactment of this Act, a Government contract that requires a project labor agreement.”
Rep. Guinta commented on the amendment in a press release yesterday:
“PLAs are nothing but political payback to unions that come at the taxpayer’s expense,” Guinta said. “They drive up the cost of already expensive government construction projects. They divert scarce revenue; instead of using limited taxpayer dollars to restore our crumbling infrastructure, PLAs put money in the pockets of unions. The amendment I submitted would level the playing field and restore competition among contractors. When all contractors get a fair shake, the taxpayer gets a good deal. And that’s good for everyone.”
TheTruthAboutPLAs.com readers may recall that Rep. Guinta was the mayor of Manchester in Nov. 2009, when the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) cancelled its solicitation for bids to construct a new Job Corps Center in Manchester, N.H., after a controversy erupted over the DOL’s PLA requirement that would have discouraged competition from qualified local contractors and their merit shop employees.
In October 2009, ABC member North Branch Construction of Concord, N.H., with ABC support and representation, filed a protest against the illegal, costly and anti-competitive PLA with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the face of the bid protest, the U.S. DOL cancelled its solicitation to construct the project, rather than build the project without the anti-competitive and costly PLA, which would have resulted in out-of-state contractors and primarily union employees building the Job Corps Center.
The DOL was widely criticized for delaying the project and the creation of badly needed construction jobs while denying local residents services offered by the Job Corps Center. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was questioned during a Feb. 3, 2010, House Education and Labor Committee hearing by Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) about the DOL’s PLA mandate. She was asked to explain why the Manchester Job Corps Center has not been built, but to date, has failed to provide an answer.
The project is supposed to be under construction soon, although the timeline is uncertain. The DOL has hired Hill International Inc., a New Jersey-based construction management claims firm notorious for supporting anti-competitive and costly government-mandated PLAs, to review the Job Corps Center project and recommend whether it should continue to be subject to a PLA.
It is unclear if this amendment would impact the construction of the Job Corps Center if the DOL proceeds with construction and mandates a PLA.
However, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported:
Guinta said the Job Corps Center did not, in itself, prompt his amendment, but he said it is “the current local example of a project that was put on hold as a result of a PLA requirement.”
TheTruthAboutPLAs.com supports this amendment. It ensures a level playing field free from costly and anti-competitive PLA mandates where all qualified contractors and their skilled employees have a fair opportunity to compete for construction contracts and deliver to taxpayers the best possible product at the best possible price.
Update: On Thursday, Feb. 17, a coalition letter signed by the following groups was sent to the House in support of the Guinta Amendment #166:
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)
Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT)
Independent Electrical Contractors Association (IEC)
Merit Elevator Contractors Association of America
National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) – Philadelphia Chapter
National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC)
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA)
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA)
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
ABC National also sent a KEY VOTE letter in support of the Guinta Amendment #166.
Update: On Friday, 2/18 around 10:30 PM ET: Rep. Guinta just spoke eloquently in support of his Amendment #166 at 10:19 PM. Rep. Guinta said the amendment was supported by ABC, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and the National Black Chamber of Commerce and described the amendment as a cost saving measure that would help grow businesses and create construction jobs.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Rep. George Miller (CA-7) and Rep. Robert E. Andrews (NJ-1) spoke out against the amendment with standard anti-PLA talking points. A vote will happen around midnight.
Debate was limited to 3 minutes a side.
You can review the debate from the Congressional Record here. Note that Congresswoman Laura Richardson did not speak from the floor and added her Big Labor pro-PLA talking points comments to the Congressional Record later.
Update: On Saturday, 2/19 around 1:25 AM ET: The Guinta Amendment FAILED with a TIE: 210-210. More analysis tomorrow.
Update: Saturday, 2/19 @ 8:00 AM: Here is the Roll Call vote #126.
All Democrats and these 26 Republicans voted no:
Alexander (LA) (Alexander letter opposing PLAs from 2009)
Diaz Balart (FL)
Ros Lehtinen (FL)
9 Democrats did not vote and the following 4 Republicans did not vote:
*Missed a number of votes Friday morning.