Arizona is the latest state to ban the use of wasteful and discriminatory government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on state and local construction projects. On April 6, Gov. Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1403, which prohibits state and local entities from requiring contractors to sign a PLA as a condition of performing taxpayer funded construction.
This is a huge win for Arizona taxpayers and the 95 percent of the construction workforce in this state that chooses not to join a labor organization. Although there has not been much PLA activity in Arizona, union bosses from California clearly had Arizona in their cross hairs. Big Labor has recently tried to coerce local leaders into requiring PLAs on several green projects. They even tried to utilize their tried and true greenmail tactics to pressure local officials and contractors into PLAs.
The people of Arizona – through their elected lawmakers – recognized the coming threat and acted to keep their tax dollars from going to Big Labor handouts. This Act will ensure that taxpayers aren’t forced to purchase four schools, public buildings or solar panel installations for the price of five.
One other important piece of this new law is that it will also prohibit union greenmail on private projects. Greenmail is the practice of abusing an environmental permitting process in order to secure a PLA. Big Labor will file frivolous complaints against a project with the appropriate environmental permitting agency to tie the project up in red tape and stall its progress until the owner agrees to require a PLA. Once a PLA is signed, all of the complaints are mysteriously withdrawn and the targeted project is allowed to go forward. Language in this Act prohibits the abuse of the process for obtaining a certificate of environmental compatibility, which is relatively common in California, from taking place in Arizona.
In addition to protecting state and local projects from potential government-mandated PLAs, this Act also sends a strong signal to the Obama administration. Every state that stands up against PLAs is yet another reminder that taxpayers don’t want PLAs. The American people understand that PLAs and President Obama’s Executive Order 13502, which encourages federal agencies to mandate PLAs on federal projects exceeding $25 million in total costs, only benefit Big Labor bosses.
The timing of this Act is important too, as the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is currently doing market research surveys to learn more about the impact of a potential PLA in the Arizona market.
While Arizona is the latest state to take action against these wasteful and discriminatory Big Labor handouts, it certainly won’t be the last. State lawmakers across the country have rightly interpreted the 2010 election as a call to action. Taxpayers are done seeing their hard earned money go to costly special interest handouts. Therefore, we urge leaders in other states considering PLA reform to take swift action to prohibit government-mandated PLAs in their states.