Yesterday, Arizona’s GOP Delegation, led by Rep. Paul Gosar, sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commending its decision to move forward with construction of the new control tower at Tucson International Airport under a competitive bidding process free from an anti-competitive and costly government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA).
Every Republican member of Arizona’s Delegation signed the letter, including Reps. Trent Franks (AZ-08), Matt Salmon (AZ-05), and David Schweikert (AZ-06) as well as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
In June, TheTruthAboutPLAs.com sent a letter to the FAA and encouraged the construction community to respond to the FAA’s PLA survey. Contractors overwhelmingly told the FAA that a PLA requirement or preference will increase costs, reduce competition and harm Arizona’s merit shop contracting community, where more than 95 percent of the construction workforce does not belong to a union.
As a result, recently the FAA announced there is no credible evidence or reason to require a discriminatory PLA.
The GOP letter was sent in response to a Feb. 3, 2014, letter sent by Arizona’s Democrat Delegation that pressured the FAA into reconsidering their decision not to use a PLA on the project.
After the GOP letter was delivered, Rep. Gosar issued the following statement:
“The Democrats’ reckless efforts to increase federal spending cannot be ignored. Our country is in serious financial distress and one of the reasons is wasteful spending typical of PLAs and Davis-Bacon rates. One of the best ways to put our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path is to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. Part of eliminating waste is discontinuing the use of frivolous, Democrat-advocated labor agreements, which do nothing but line union pockets with taxpayer money.
“I applaud the FAA for using common sense and moving forward under a competitive bidding process. A PLA is nothing more than a special union kickback. These deals are both unnecessary and incredibly wasteful. In practice, they do nothing to structure the relationship between labor and contractors. But they do eliminate competition and drive up costs.”
The GOP letter and statement from Rep. Gosar are on the money.
The Obama administration and some Democrats in Congress are committed to steering federal contracts to their union political supporters via PLAs.
President Obama’s Feb. 6, 2009, pro-PLA Executive Order 13502 encourages federal agencies, on a project-by-project basis, to mandate PLAs on federal construction projects exceeding $25 million in total cost. The order also permits (but does not require) private, local and state recipients of federal assistance to mandate PLAs—a practice prohibited from 2001 to 2009 by President George W. Bush’s Executive Orders 13202 and 13208.
Likewise, Obama administration officials and Democrat lawmakers have been pressuring federal agencies like the FAA to require PLAs, even when they are not necessary.
PLAs mean more work for union members and union contractors, and more campaign contributions from Big Labor to Democrats. This cycle of PLA corruption harms taxpayers and the contracting community.
While the negative impact of this policy on federal merit shop contractors has been muted by effective legal, legislative and public relations strategies executed by Associated Builders and Contractors and a coalition of industry groups opposed to government-mandated PLAs, billions of dollars worth of federal and federally assisted construction projects have been needlessly subjected to government-mandated PLAs.
In 2011, Arizona passed a measure prohibiting PLAs on state and state-assisted projects in order to promote competition and reduce waste in public contracting. A total of 18 states have similar measures in place today. Since President Obama took office, 14 states enacted such measures.
Arizona’s GOP delegation in Washington, DC, deserve recognition and praise for promoting fair and open competition in federal contracting. Other delegations across the country should follow in their footsteps, especially when Democrat lawmakers in other states try to intimidate federal agencies into using PLAs when they are not appropriate.