Great news out of South Carolina.
Yesterday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed S.438 into law, which will prohibit government entities in the state from requiring contractors to sign a project labor agreement (PLA) or other agreements with labor unions as a condition of performing work on public construction projects.
South Carolina is the 17th state to take action to protect taxpayers and the vast majority of the construction industry workforce from wasteful and discriminatory PLA mandates. It is the 13th state to enact reform since President Obama issued Executive Order 13502 in February 2009, which encourages federal agencies to require PLAs on federal construction projects costing more than $25 million and allows state and local governments to require PLAs on federally assisted projects.
“This new law will ensure that public construction contracts will be awarded to firms that provide taxpayers the best construction at the best price,” said ABC Carolinas Chapter President & CEO Doug Carlson. “There is no question that construction labor union bosses in other states are using these types of mandates to steer public construction projects to contractors who are willing to accept their onerous demands and this new law will protect South Carolina taxpayers from this kind of abuse.”
A PLA is a special interest scheme that discourages competition from qualified contractors and their workers by requiring a construction contract to be awarded only to contractors and subcontractors that agree to recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on that job; use the union hall to obtain workers; obey the union’s restrictive apprenticeship and work rules; and contribute to union pension plans and other funds in which their nonunion employees will never benefit unless they join a union.
When a government entity requires a PLA on a construction project, they are essentially tilting the playing field in favor of contractors that agree to use organized labor. On government-funded or assisted projects in South Carolina, this means that the 99 percent of the state’s private construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union cannot compete on an equal basis for projects funded by their own tax dollars.
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, this law saves taxpayers from the cycle of corruption that frequently leads public officials to agree to require PLA mandates. When a state adopts one of these laws, everyone, except construction union bosses, wins.
Taxpayers and lawmakers from coast-to-coast continue to say NO to government-mandated PLAs and PLA preference schemes.