Santa Fe City Council Delays Implementation of Discriminatory CWA/PLA Mandate

0 June 19, 2012  State & Local Construction

Last week, the Santa Fe City Council delayed the implementation of a wasteful and discriminatory community workforce agreement (CWA) mandate for all city projects costing more than $500,000 after city officials struggled to implement the requirement on a small firehouse renovation and expansion.  They did not have any bidders willing to work under a PLA.  The requirement is now scheduled to take effect on October 1.

Here are the highlights from the Albuquerque Journal’s reporting of the meeting:

According to a January city memo, a community workforce agreement is a “pre-hire collective bargaining agreement that sets out in detail the terms of employment and hiring for all workers on large scale public works constructions projects.”

All workers on a project governed by a community workforce agreement must belong to a union, although they can join just for the duration of a project.

Under the new law, on all city public works and construction projects over $500,000, the city pays union wages and follows union-mandated working conditions relating to hiring, hours worked, overtime, holidays and grievance procedures, in exchange for unions agreeing to not strike, complete projects in a timely manner, follow certain procedures for resolving problems and allow non-union workers and contractors to work on projects.


Groups such as the Associated Builders and Contractors of New Mexico argue that community workforce agreements may raise the cost of public works projects by 20 percent, impose burdens on contractors and constitute a “special interest scheme.”

They say laws are already in place to ensure workers are paid good wages and have safe working conditions.

This requirement is a serious policy shift that would deprive taxpayers of the opportunity to get the best construction at the best price.  It would also discriminate against the more than 90 percent of New Mexican construction workers who choose not to join a labor union.

Here at, we hope Santa Fe City Council members take the delay in the implementation of this requirement as an opportunity to learn more about how this CWA requirement will discriminate against merit shop construction firms, many of whom have been building Santa Fe city projects on-time and on-budget for years.

Community workforce agreements are also known as project labor agreements (PLAs).  Learn more about how these mandates discriminate against qualified contractors in our post Project Labor Agreement Basics: What is a PLA.

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