Despite a setback last week, a bill in Georgia containing language to ban government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) and other requirements that force contractors to abide by Big Labor’s demands as a condition of being awarded taxpayer-funded construction projects could be on the move. If enacted, this language would prevent PLA mandates in Georgia – including the potential PLA mandate on the proposed Falcons’ stadium project.
This language was added by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, March 11, to S.B. 179, which is a good bill that includes other key provisions designed to improve the construction industry climate in Georgia. (Note: At time of posting, the version of S.B. 179 with the open competition language is not available online)
The ABC Georgia Chapter and its allies in the business community were forced to urge legislators to amend the open competition language into this bill after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle effectively killed the standalone open competition bill H.B. 362 with a stroke of his pen last week. Despite passing the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives by a large margin, fellow Republican Cagle inexplicably referred the bill to the Senate Urban Affairs Committee. By referring the bill to this committee, which has no Republican members, the Lt. Governor effectively sentenced the bill to defeat in the 2013 legislative session.
The committee members who amended the open competition language into the second bill guarantee it will get a fair opportunity to advance in the legislative process.
If passed, the language in this bill would prevent government entities from requiring contractors to enter into agreements with construction union bosses in order to perform work on public construction projects. While these mandates are rare in Georgia, media outlets have indicated this kind of mandate could be a part of the new Atlanta Falcons’ stadium deal.
The language now included in S.B. 179 would guarantee that the 96 percent of Georgia’s construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor organization will have the opportunity to work on the potential Falcons’ stadium project and all others funded by their own tax dollars.
The language will also help ensure taxpayers get the best construction at the best price. PLA and other union-only mandates have been found to increase construction costs by an average of 12-18 percent, and much more in some cases. Additionally, the numerous examples of stadium projects subject to unnecessary PLA requirements gone bad show these mandates do not ensure a local workforce, quality construction, cost savings or on-time delivery.
In response to the rising threat of PLA mandates – in large part a result of an executive order eliminating a ban on government-mandated PLAs on federally assisted projects and encouraging them on federal projects costing more than $25 million – 14 states have banned PLA mandates on taxpayer-funded construction projects in their states to some degree.
In most of those states, these statutes are very similar to the open competition language now included in S.B. 179.
We strongly encourage Georgia legislators to stand up for open competition, fairness in construction and the vast majority of our industry that chooses not to join a labor organization. We urge and expect Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and leaders in the state legislature to stand against the special interests that are trying to protect their future handouts on public construction.
Here at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com, we hope the open competition language will move through the legislative process as soon as possible.