Washington Examiner Local Editorial: Dulles Rail PLA Insults Virginians, Favors Big Labor

0 April 19, 2011  State & Local Construction, Transportation & Infrastructure, Uncategorized

A Washington Examiner editorial raises a number of concerns and focuses on disturbing corruption related to Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s (MWAA) April 6 resolution mandating an anti-competitive and costly union-favoring project labor agreement (PLA) on Phase 2 construction for the $3.5 billion Dulles Metro Rail project (“Dulles Rail PLA Insults Virginians, Favors Big Labor,” 4/18):

Virginia is a proud right-to-work state, so the resolution passed last week by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority requiring a project labor agreement for construction of Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail project was a slap in the face of all working Virginians.

Adding insult to injury, the MWAA board did not provide adequate public notice prior to the 11-2 vote. The precise terms of the PLA resolution remain undisclosed, but a draft indicates that contractors and subcontractors will be required to submit to union rules and working conditions as a precondition for bidding on Phase 2 – unlike Phase 1, in which Dulles Transit Partners agreed to a voluntary PLA after the bidding process was completed.

Since only about 4 percent of Virginia construction workers are unionized, about half of all qualified Virginia construction firms will be discouraged from bidding on Phase 2, Ben Brubeck, director of labor and federal procurement for the Arlington-based Associated Builders and Contractors, told The Examiner. This means that most of the workers hired to build the Metrorail extension will be union members from other states. That’s not the only problem. Brubeck estimates that the PLA will raise the cost of the project between 10 and 20 percent, adding an estimated $350 million to $750 million because of higher labor costs and reduced competition. This is in addition to the $330 million MWAA has already elected to spend on an underground station at Washington Dulles International Airport, raising the total cost of the financially questionable project by more than $1 billion.

In addition to freezing out Virginia workers, MWAA’s cavalier disregard of Virginia taxpayers is yet another slap in the face. Worse, MWAA board member Dennis Martire, vice president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, violated MWAA’s own code of ethics by failing to recuse himself from a vote that will likely produce a financial windfall for his employer.

A handful of local public officials, including longtime Dulles Rail supporter Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., are finally blasting MWAA for ratcheting up the costs of Phase 2 while simultaneously trying to freeze out nonunionized Virginia workers. Wolf’s Monday press conference attacking the PLA was a perfect illustration of MWAA’s insulting attitude toward Virginians: It was invaded by hundreds of protesting union members who were all bussed into the commonwealth from somewhere else.

This editorial lays out the facts concerning this special interest scheme. Check back for more updates as we follow this story closely and review all TheTruthAboutPLAs.com blog posts about the Phase 2 Dulles Metro Rail PLA here.

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