U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to Examine Costly Government-Mandated PLAs

0 March 16, 2011  Federal Construction, Uncategorized

Today at 1:30 PM, the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee’s (chaired by Rep. Issa of California) Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending Subcommittee (chaired by Rep. Jordan of Ohio) is holding a hearing called, Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation: The Cost of Doing Business in the Construction Industry.

The hearing will focus primarily on the impact of anti-competitive and costly government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on the construction industry, but it will also address some regulatory red tape and other issues regarding OSHA.  We expect lawmakers to take a hard look at President Obama’s Executive Order 13502 and the administration’s effort to promote government-mandated PLAs – costly Big Labor handouts – on federal construction projects.

This hearing is hopefully the first step in more progress towards House oversight on government-mandated PLAs, as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has legislative jurisdiction over Congressman John Sullivan’s legislation to prohibit the use of government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted projects, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 735). Sullivan’s bill would codify former President George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13202, which ensured that taxpayers got the best construction at the best price for the duration of his administration. Proponents of free enterprise, including Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), are working to make this bill a key priority during this Congress.

Also, Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) is a member of this subcommittee. Rep. Guinta introduced an amendment to the FY2011 Continuing Resolution (C.R.) passed by the House on February 19 that would have prohibited government-mandated PLAs on projects funded by that C.R. The amendment failed by a 210-210 tie.

Several of the witnesses scheduled to testify have outstanding stories to tell about the wasteful nature of these Big Labor handouts, including ABC General Counsel and TheTruthAboutPLAs.com contributor Maurice Baskin (here is Baskin’s testimony) and two ABC members, John Biagas of Bay Electric of Newport News, Virginia and John Ennis of Ennis Electric of Manassas, VA.  Both have been harmed by the GSA’s PLA preference policy and Mr. Biagas provides an interesting perspective as he is a former union member.

Dr. Dale Belman of Michigan State University (MSU) will also testify as the pro-PLA/union/minority witness.  Dr. Belman has written a number of papers promoting government-mandated PLAs at all levels of government, as well as studies promoting prevailing wage laws. Readers may remember that MSU’s School of Labor and Industrial Relations and the School of Planning, Design and Construction – with the help of Dr. Belman – held a conference promoting PLAs in October 2009.

The hearing’s witness list is available here.

The committee will be accepting comments for the official hearing record for the next two weeks, so please leave a note in the comments section of this post if you would like some help having your voice heard.

The hearing will be available via webcast here.

Here is the subcommittee’s press release on the hearing:

Oversight Subcommittee: Does the Administration’s “Mandate” on Project Labor Agreements Cost Construction Jobs and Taxpayers Money?

WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow, the House Committee on Government Reform will continue its examination of the regulatory burdens placed on private sector job creators.

By Executive Order, President Obama created a preference for government contractors willing to enter into pre-hire, collective bargaining agreements known as “Project Labor Agreements” or PLAs. PLAs establish the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project with one or more labor organizations. The President’s preference has translated into an award bonus essentially locking non-union competitors out of the market for federal construction work. Industry witnesses are expected to testify that PLAs result in increased costs to job creators and taxpayers because of payouts necessary to secure union cooperation.

“When you force union rules on all private sector construction firms, you are essentially locking over 80% of contractors out of the market for federal construction contracts. Even some labor unions have pointed out that PLAs disrupt government-mandated labor agreements already in place between unions and contractors,” Oversight Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said. “That means big labor wins, but taxpayers and private sector businesses lose.”

Chairman Jordan said he intends to seek answers from the administration witnesses: the head of the President’s office of procurement policy, the top public building official at the General Services Administration, and the Labor Department’s OSHA chief.

 Hearing details are below. The hearing will be webcast at http://oversight.house.gov.

Title: “Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation: The Cost of Doing Business in the Construction Industry.”

Details: Wednesday, March 16, 2011, at 1:30 p.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses:
• Mr. John Ennis, Jr., CEO, Ennis Electric Company, Inc.
• Ms. Linda Figg, CEO, FIGG Engineering
• Mr. Maurice Baskin, Partner, Labor and Employment Group, Venable, L.L.P., and General Counsel to Associated Builders & Contractors.
• Mr. John F. Biagas, CEO of Bay Electric
• Dr. Dale Belman, Professor at Michigan State University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations
• Mr. Robert Peck, Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration
• Mr. Daniel Gordon, Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Executive Office of the President
• Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Health and Safety, U.S. Department of Labor 

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