Today is a huge day for those who think free enterprise and open competition should determine how taxpayer-funded construction contracts are awarded in America.
Lawmakers in Maine and Michigan passed bills that ban government-mandated PLAs on state funded construction. Once they are signed into law, they will ensure that taxpayers get the best construction at the best price. They will also guarantee that all construction workers have a fair opportunity to build projects funded by their own tax dollars and not just the well-connected minority that belong to a construction trade union.
ABC of Michigan’s press release is below:
Open Competition Bill Passage Signals New Era of Accountability
No qualified worker or contractor can be denied equal opportunity or the ability to work on public contracts based on their labor status, says Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan (ABC) of today’s vote by the Michigan House of Representatives on SB 165, which outlaws union-only project labor agreements on governmental construction.
Prohibiting anti-competitive contracts also means the state will spend less money building and renovating its schools, universities and municipal buildings when forced union agreements on public construction projects are no longer legal. When signed by the governor, the legislation will also assure equal opportunity by allowing the 75 percent of construction workers that choose not to belong to a union to work on projects funded by their own tax dollars. The move follows the State Senate’s passage of the bill on June 16.
“Taxpayers deserve the accountability that results from open, competitive bidding,” explains ABC of Michigan President Chris Fisher. “Legislators who have pushed for this change recognize that the public expects the most responsible use of their tax dollars.”
Under PLAs, only firms and workers that agree to abide by collective bargaining agreements are allowed to perform work on a public construction project, effectively excluding about 75 percent of the possible qualified pool in Michigan, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most construction workers in Michigan choose not to belong to a union. The decreased competition diverts projects to a small pool of unionized companies and wastes tax dollars by driving up the costs of projects, often as much as 20 percent. The legislation will prohibit such practices and ensure a level playing field for public contracting.
“In today’s economy, the state cannot afford to pay for what amounts to special interest kickbacks to favored political groups,” stresses Fisher. “The end to anti-competitive picking of winners and losers means the beginning of a new era of fiscal accountability on construction projects paid for by public tax dollars.”
ABC of Michigan, a statewide trade association representing the commercial construction industry, is dedicated to quality, open competition, equal opportunity and accountability in publicly funded construction projects.