The Michigan House Commerce Committee approved legislation yesterday to prohibit wasteful and discriminatory government-mandated project labor agreements on state and local projects. The committee approved H.B. 4287 by a 12-7 vote. This bill now awaits consideration from the full House.
The Michigan Senate has also taken up the PLA issue and S.B. 165, which is identical to H.B. 4287, has cleared its committee of referral and is set to be considered by the full Senate.
Here at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com, we call on the House and Senate to take quick action on these measures. The number one issue for Michiganders is jobs and this bill will ensure that the entire construction industry – and not just the 22 percent that join a labor union – have to opportunity to compete for construction projects funded by their own tax dollars.
Additionally, this bill will ensure that the state, public universities and local communities are no longer in a position to build four buildings, schools or miles of roadway for the price of five. This will mean more money available for construction and as a result, more construction jobs for a state that is struggling to escape double digit unemployment for the first time since 2008.
Here is a press release on the House Commerce Committee’s vote from Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan:
House Commerce Committee approves PLA reform
As did the state Senate committee’s action on PLA reform last week, the House Commerce Committee’s approval today of its own bill to end the practice of discriminatory union-only project labor agreements will help open up job opportunities for more Michigan construction workers and bring down the cost of public construction projects.
“Michigan workers shouldn’t be denied the chance to work on taxpayer funded construction projects, simply because they choose not to belong to a union,” Chris Fisher, president of Associated Builders & Contractors of Michigan commented in response to the House Committee action. “In this era of tight budgets and economic challenges, Michigan cannot afford costly project labor agreements that divert projects to a select group of workers and contractors, leaving 80 percent of qualified workers who are non-union shut out of the projects.
The committee approved HB 4287 on a 12 to 7 vote, with an amendment that clarified the bill’s impact on prevailing wage, which would not be changed if the PLA reform bill is passed.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Haveman (R-Holland) and dozens of co-sponsors, would essentially eliminate union-only PLAs, a practice that forces non-union workers and firms to comply with collective bargaining agreements and thus discourages non-union firms from bidding.
“Most women and minorities are not in unions, so PLAs exclude them,” testified Renee Sanborn of Sanborn Construction, a woman-owned company that does excavating work. “ Since there are no unionized excavating companies in this area, when there is a union-only PLA, firms have to be brought in from outside the region.” Sanborn confirmed that under a PLA her firm would be required to pay twice for benefits such as health care, pensions and 401Ks.
An attorney who specializes in the construction industry testified that union-only PLAs “are an extreme example of union protection policies, that assist the unions at the public’s expense.”
“The primary reason contractors won’t sign PLAs is the forced unionization,” David Masud, of the Masud Labor Law Group, stressed, adding that a secondary concern is the frequent requirement to use laborers from the union hall rather than a company’s own employees.
“Like other reform-oriented states, Michigan must pass legislation to create a level playing for everybody,” explained Chris Fisher, ABC of Michigan president. “Such a law will ensure that the state does not discriminate against any business or worker on the basis of union affiliation. Michigan taxpayers will also benefit from having public construction that is completed by the lowest, most responsible and qualified bidder to ensure greater accountability of public funds.”
The bill pertains to state and local government construction projects and will affect all public education institutions – local schools, colleges and universities – as well as township, city and county construction.
ABC of Michigan, a statewide trade association representing the commercial construction industry, is dedicated to open competition, equal opportunity and accountability in publicly funded construction projects.