Report Documents Construction Delays on PLA Projects

1 April 11, 2011  Uncategorized

As part of our ongoing series publishing the truth about government-mandated projects labor agreements (PLAs), here is a chapter documenting Construction Delays on PLA Projects from Maury Baskin’s Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements: The Public Record of Poor Performance (2011 Edition).

IV. Construction Delays on PLA Projects

Another argument often made in support of government-mandated PLAs is that they will ensure timely completion of construction projects by, inter alia, guaranteeing labor peace.  Once again, however, the proponents’ claims are belied by the published reports of the completion dates of union-only projects and their significant labor disruptions.

In 1999, union carpenters on the San Francisco Airport expansion project struck over wages even though their union had signed a PLA.  The union electricians, plumbers and painters also went on strike in support of the union carpenters.[1] The cost of the strike was $1 million. The project, which already was a month behind schedule, lost even more time.[2]

The PLA-mandated Safeco field in Seattle also was completed months later than scheduled.  The stadium could not be opened in time for the beginning of the 1999 season, as had been promised, and the Seattle Mariners could not begin play at their new home until July 1999.[3]

The Miller Park baseball stadium in Milwaukee, built under a government-mandated PLA, was supposed to be completed in time for opening day of the 2000 season. Instead, the new stadium was not completed in time to be used at all during that season due to construction delays, which included a fatal accident involving union workers (discussed above).[4]

The completion of the Big Dig in Boston, which suffered significant cost overruns, was delayed by more than two years. The project was supposed to be finished in 2002 but was not finished until several years later.[5]

In 2006, four Los Angeles Unified School District campuses built under a PLA were forced to open their schools one month late because contractors could not find enough skilled labor to complete the project on time.[6]

In 2008, the owner of the Washington Nationals initially refused to pay $3.5 million in rent because the PLA project was not “substantially complete” on the date the city was required to hand over the stadium.[7]

Union members walked off the job in violation of their no-strike clause under a PLA governing construction of Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower in 2006. The development company was forced to sue the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council.[8]

A two-week construction workers strike also halted the resurfacing of Chicago-area expressways and streets, despite a PLA containing a union no-strike clause. The strike forced the Illinois Tollway to suspend its major projects in 2010.[9]

Construction of three state prisons in Pennsylvania was delayed for many months in 2009 and 2010 after state officials announced plans to mandate PLAs on the projects, which were valued between $200 million and $400 million each. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “[A] major reason can be summed up in three words – Project Labor Agreements.”[10]

The 2010 report on New Jersey PLA projects by the New Jersey Department of Labor found that the average duration of PLA projects was 100 weeks compared with 78 weeks for non-PLA projects.[11]

Finally, a study of federal construction projects completed between 2001 and 2009, during which time President Bush’s Executive Order No. 13208 prohibited any government-mandated PLAs on federal construction projects, found there were no significant labor disputes reported on federal construction that caused delays during that entire period.[12]

NOTE: Click the appropriate chapter from the report:

  1. Introduction
  2. Increased Costs on PLA Projects
  3. Reduced Competition on PLA Projects

On Tuesday we will post the chapter, Construction Defects on PLA Projects.
Citations after the jump.

[1] Carpenters at Airport Protest Against Union Leadership, San Francisco Chronicle, May 21, 1999; see also Arbitrator Orders California Carpenters To End Wildcat Strike, Return to Work, Daily Labor Report, June 23, 1999.

[2] Carpenters at Airport Protest Against Union Leadership, San Francisco Chronicle, May 21, 1999.

[3] New Seattle Stadium Battles Massive Cost Overruns, ENR, July 27/Aug. 3, 1998 at 1, 9.

[4] Crane Accident Kills Three at Unfinished Miller Park, Washington Time, July 15, 1999.


[6] Construction Delays Will Force 4 New L.A. Schools to Open Late, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2006.

[7] Nationals Withhold Rent on Ballpark, Washington Post, July 11, 2008.

[8] 401 North Wabash Venture LLC v. Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Coucnil, N.D. Ill., No. 06-CV-3077 (N.D. Ill. June 5, 2006).

[9] Construction strike now affects tollway work,, (July 16, 2010).

[10] Dispute between builders delays 3 prisons, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 14, 2010, available at

[11] Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature, use of Project Labor Agreements in Public Works Building Projects in Fiscal Year 2008 (NJDOL Oct. 2010), available at

[12] See Tuerck, Glassman and Bachman, Project Labor Agreements on Federal Construction Projects: A Costly Solution In Search of A Problem (2009), Studies.  During the 2001-2009 time period, the federal government entered into construction contracts valued in excess of $140 billion. See

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One Response to Report Documents Construction Delays on PLA Projects

Don Black May 30, 2011 at 12:29 pm

The 2010 report on New Jersey PLA projects by the New Jersey Department of Labor found that the average duration of PLA projects was 100 weeks compared with 78 weeks for non-PLA projects. This works out great if you’ve already been hired, if not you have to find another source of employment.Given today’s tight economy, it is a relief to see any type of construction projects actually happening. Especially, since it seems as if the New Jersey Construction Projects are few and far between. I was so happy when I found Dodge Projects because they actually offer detailed leads for work, by state or by niche. They have really made the job search much easier for me and have really set me on the right path. They are definitely worth checking out.

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