Juneau Proposal Threatens Majority of Local Construction Industry Workforce

0 January 15, 2014  State & Local Construction, Transportation & Infrastructure

Union bosses and their political allies in Juneau, Alaska, want it all, and they want it without the hassle of listening to the vast majority of the construction workforce in Alaska that chooses not to join a labor union.

The Coral Princess Cruise ship prepares to dock in Juneau. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

The Coral Princess Cruise ship prepares to dock in Juneau. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

On Jan. 12, the Juneau Assembly Public Works and Facilities Committee passed a resolution that would establish a new procedure for determining whether a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate is appropriate. Luckily for Alaska union bosses, the proposed process is poorly defined, insular and will likely make it easier for politicians elected with Big Labor support to ensure all Juneau project are built subject to wasteful and discriminatory PLA mandates.

The resolution requires a review team evaluate all construction projects over $4 million (adjusted for inflation in future years) to determine if a PLA mandate is justified. The review team will consist of the city engineer, city manager and the head of the department procuring the project. Decisions by the review team will be made through a majority vote.

This resolution does not provide any information or instructions on how the review teams should conduct their evaluations. It doesn’t provide any criteria or guidance on what the review teams should consider as part of their evaluations.

This review process will likely ensure that all future construction projects procured by the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) are subject to PLA mandates. Project review board members likely will be under intense pressure from local politicians—who will employ every member of each review team—to fall in line with Big Labor’s demands. With no criteria for project evaluations, review board members will have tremendous leeway to require PLA mandates.

This proposal comes on the heels of a decision by the Juneau Docks and Harbors Department not to require a PLA on a $54 million update of the city’s downtown docks. The decision not to require a PLA was made despite an existing Juneau policy encouraging the use of PLA mandates on city projects. At the time of the decision, CBJ Assembly members promised to investigate ways to ensure that all projects are subject to PLA mandates. If adopted, this policy could go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

The CBJ Assembly’s proposal also is likely to increase construction costs for taxpayers and deprive the vast majority of the construction industry workforce of the opportunity to compete fairly for projects funded by their own tax dollars.

If Juneau’s elected representatives refuse to stand up for taxpayers and the construction industry, we strongly encourage Gov. Sean Parnell (R) and the Alaska State Legislature to take action and make Alaska the 19th state to ban government-mandated PLAs.

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