Prince George’s County, Maryland Considers Wasteful PLA Requirement

2 June 1, 2011  State & Local Construction

Price George’s County will consider legislation today that would require contractors to agree to wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) as a condition of performing work on all projects costing more than $1 million.

Update: PG County passed this policy Nov. 15, 2011 (read the Prince George’s County press release on the policy here)

This proposal is particularly galling for local taxpayers when you consider the terrible fiscal situation that the county finds itself in this budget year. has devoted numerous blog posts to documenting problems with legislation like this in the Washington, D.C. metro area and DC’s poor experiences with PLAs.

We’ve also documented how bills like this one are a product of Big Labor engaged in blatant pay-to-play politics (see this letter from Big Labor lobbyists to P.G. County officials here).

In addition, Harry Alford from the National Black Chamber of Commerce has offered his thoughts on this bill:


Your County Council is considering legislation (CB-16) which would demand that all construction projects over a certain dollar volume will be under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). This means that all the work will have to come under union rules. This would be devastating to Blacks and Hispanics.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been implemented for over 47 years and construction unions have yet to adequately integrate its membership. You get past the trades of concrete and general labor and you will find few if any Black or Hispanic population within the particular crafts. There should be an audit of Black and Hispanic journeymen in the crafts based in Prince George’s County. You would be appalled. This should be done before any thought of having a PLA.

Those who support PLA’s are either for segregation, ignorant or something worse. Please don’t let them fool you with “great pre-apprentice programs”. They have been playing this game since the 1970’s and still there is no integration. 98% of Black contractors are non-union. To block them from working union free would be a great travesty to equal opportunity.

Please stop CB-16.

This measure would unnecessarily increase construction costs at a time when county officials should be trying to save money.

This bill also means fewer PG county residents will have the opportunity to work on projects funded by their own tax dollars.  In the DC metro area, less than 6 percent of the private construction workforce chooses to join a labor organization.

A March 31 report on government-mandated PLAs, “The Problem with PLAs in the District of Columbia,” examines existing data indicating whether government-mandated PLAs make sense in the District of Columbia.

"The Problem with PLAs in the District of Columbia," Anirban Basu (April, 2010)

Here is a key finding from the report:

“In the context of the current construction economy, government PLA mandates appear likely to have a destabilizing impact on an already depressed industry in the District of Columbia, leading to reduced employment of local residents and considerable harm to small and disadvantaged businesses.”

The study’s compelling economic data allows readers to conclude that PLAs make little sense in the District of Columbia/Prince George’s County construction market.

We urge taxpayer to contact PG County councilmembers and tell them to say NO to wasteful and discriminatory PLAs.

Councilman Will Campos- 301-952-4436; [email protected]
Councilwoman Ingrid Turner- 301-952-3094; [email protected]
Councilman Obie Patterson- 301-952-3860; [email protected]
Councilwoman Karen Toles- 301-952-3690; [email protected]
Councilman Mel Franklin- 301-952-3820; [email protected]

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2 Responses to Prince George’s County, Maryland Considers Wasteful PLA Requirement

Mark June 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm

This is all lies and scare tactics to perpetuate ignorance! The unions would welcome an audit! I gaurantee after talking to the blacks and Hispanics that previously worked in the non union sector who are now union members, you’ll find they are earning better wages and now have health care for themselves and their families! Greedy contractors who want to keep profits for themselves don’t want an educated workforce so they can continue to exploit their workers!

Ernie June 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Mark, please provide documentation of how many non-retired construction trade union members reside in PG County. If possible, please indicate the sex and race of this dataset so the public can properly evaluate the impact of this proposal on the African-American community in PG County.

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