Yesterday, ABC Virginia issued a press release supporting the Fair and Open Competition in Government Contracting Act (HB 33) pre-filed this Monday in Richmond (see the full release below). HB 33 prohibits Virginia and recipients of state funding or assistance from requiring or prohibiting contractors to enter into union agreements, such as a project labor agreement (PLA), as a condition of winning state and state-assisted construction contracts.
Update 1/1/12: Sen. Mark Obenshain introduced companion legislation in the Virginia Senate, SB 242 (pdf). It is cosponsored by all 20 Senate GOP members. The Virginia Senate has 20 GOP and 20 Democrat Senators. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R) casts deciding votes.
Click here to write your legislators and encourage them to support HB 33/SB 242.
HB 33/SB 242 ensures Virginia taxpayers get the best construction project at the best price and 96 percent of Virginia’s construction workforce (those who choose not to belong to a labor union) have a real shot at working on taxpayer funded projects. It will also help stretch scarce tax dollars to meet Virginia’s transportation and infrastructure needs.
In July, 2011, the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Herald editorial boards applauded states for enacting fair and open competition measures that end “sweetheart deals with labor unions,” and “limit bids on construction projects to contractors that agree to union representation.”
State budget deficits and a 2009 President Obama executive order encouraging PLAs on federal projects and allowing their use on federally-assisted projects pushed states to take steps at preventing waste and discrimination in public contracting.
A total of 11 states have enacted legislation or executive orders prohibiting government-mandated PLAs on state and state-assisted projects to some degree.
This year, Democrats controlling Illinois and California state government enacted legislation encouraging the use of government-mandated PLAs. New Jersey and New York have existing laws enacted by Democrat legislatures and administrations encouraging anti-competitive and costly PLA mandates, while Washington has a pro-PLA executive order.
If enacted, HB 33/SB 242 will prevent special interst handouts like the mandated PLA on Phase 2 of the $2.8 billion Dulles Metrorail Silver Line project Virginia is partially financing. TheTruthAboutPLAs.com covered this controversial project in great detail yesterday. It will increase competition, reduce costs and create job for Virginia’s construction industry.
The measure prevents the state and those procuring projects with state dollars from MANDATING PLAs. Contractors would be free to voluntarily enter into PLAs, as is permitted by the National Labor Relations Act.
Update 12/15 and 12/19:
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce issued this press release Dec. 14 in support of HB 33.
Del. Comstock and Del. Hugo issued a Dec. 19 press release on HB 33.
Virginia Construction Industry Supports Legislation Ensuring Fair and Open Competition On Public Construction Contracts
Contact: Angie Gutenson, Vice President, ABC-VA (703) 968-6205 For Immediate Release
Ben Brubeck, PLA Expert, ABC National (703) 812-2042 December 13, 2011
DULLES, VA – On behalf of its 660 Virginia merit shop employers, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC-VA) supports the Fair and Open Competition in Government Contracting Act (HB 33) introduced on Monday by Virginia Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-34th) and GOP Caucus Chairman Virginia Delegate Tim Hugo (R-40th). HB 33 prohibits Virginia and recipients of state funding or assistance from requiring or prohibiting contractors to enter into union agreements, such as a project labor agreement (PLA), as a condition of winning state and state-assisted construction contracts.
“This commonsense legislation will reduce costs, increase competition and create jobs for qualified Virginia businesses and their skilled local employees on state and state-funded construction projects,” said ABC-VA President Patrick Dean. “It will ensure Virginia’s infrastructure dollars are spent wisely and support projects subject to fair and open competition, which ultimately will benefit taxpayers by funding more construction projects and creating more jobs for Virginians.
“Unfortunately, unaccountable political appointees controlled by special interests have been steering taxpayer-funded construction contracts to their political supporters by mandating union-favoring PLAs on projects funded by the state,” said Dean. “This special interest favoritism has no place in Virginia.
“If enacted, this measure would prohibit state-assisted construction projects, such as Phase 2 of the multi-billion dollar Dulles Metrorail Silver line project, from mandating unwanted anti-competitive and costly PLAs on contractors,” said Dean. “Why should Virginia’s financial stakeholders pay for the majority of this project when the PLA mandated on the prime contractor by MWAA ensures discrimination against 96 percent of Virginia’s construction workforce – those who have freely decided not to join a union? Local workers will lose jobs to out-of-state union members given hiring priority via the PLA.”
“HB 33 simply ensures the government remains neutral with respect to a qualified contractor’s relationship with labor unions and gets the government out of the business of picking winners and losers through cronyism,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC National’s Director of Labor and Federal Procurement. “To date, 11 states have enacted similar measures, resulting in reduced costs, increased job creation and a level playing field encouraging robust competition from qualified nonunion and union contractors.
“HB 33 allows contractors to voluntarily enter into union agreements like PLAs,” said Brubeck. “Unlike a government-mandated PLA, it gives contractors a real choice, which can only increase competition and help taxpayers get the best possible product at the best possible price.”
Learn more about anti-competitive and costly PLAs and the Silver Line Metrorail controversy at www.TheTruthAboutPLAs.com.
About ABC — Associated Builders and Contractors is a national association with 75 chapters representing more than 23,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms with nearly two million employees. Founded in 1972, the ABC Virginia Chapter is the only association in Virginia dedicated to representing the interests of merit shop contractors. ABC VA represents all firms in the commercial construction industry equally. Membership represents the full range of contractors, from small family-owned subcontractors to global general contracting firms, as well as, materials suppliers and industry professionals. The ABC Virginia Chapter has offices in Chantilly, Richmond and Hampton Roads.