New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is stepping up his election year outreach to Big Labor. Despite efforts to reign in public sector employees, Cuomo is clearly interested in strengthening his bond with other parts of the labor coalition – at the expense of taxpayers and the vast majority of the construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor organization.
On Feb. 20, the governor’s office proposed an amendment to the biannual budget that would require the use of wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) on all state design-build construction projects over $10 million. The amendment also curtails the ability of local government entities to utilize the design-build project delivery method and sunsets the act authorizing the use of design-build in 2017.
This is just the latest in a series of attempts by politicians from both parties in New York State to reward construction labor union bosses with lucrative public construction projects. In 2008, the New York Legislature adopted an eleventh hour compromise of the state’s controversial Wicks Law that gave some relief in exchange for PLA mandates. Visit here to learn more about Gov. David Paterson’s 2008 Wicks Law “reform” package.
In response to Cuomo administration efforts to mandate PLAs, individual contractors have taken up the fight to compete fairly for projects funded by their own tax dollars. The fight against a PLA mandate in Orange County, N.Y., continues, as Lancaster Development – a firm that was twice the low bidder on the project – is still fighting for the right to compete fairly for the project.
We strongly encourage the Republican majority in the New York Senate to oppose the Cuomo administration’s most recent attempt to encourage the use of PLA mandates on taxpayer-funded construction. Government-mandated PLAs on design-build construction projects likely will eliminate any cost advantage obtained through using the alternative delivery method. This is a bad deal for taxpayers, and should not be included in the final budget package approved by the Legislature.
Update: The design-build construction legislation, incuding the discriminatory pro-PLA provision, died due to industry opposition to the pro-PLA revision. It is a shame taxpayers cannot receive the benefits of design-build on certain projects because the Governor and some in the legislature are more interested in ensuring a steady handout to union special interests instead of protecting taxpayers and rebuilding the state’s crumbling infrastructure in an economical and efficient manner.