The Butler County, Pa., Board of Commissioners March 19 imposed a wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreement (PLA) mandate on the construction of the new Butler County Government Center Annex project.
This mandate is bad for taxpayers and the 76 percent of Pennsylvania’s construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union.
When mandated on public construction projects, PLAs make it impossible for merit shop contractors to perform the work unless they dramatically change their business model. The PLA contractors are currently required to sign as a condition of performing work on the Butler County Government Annex project includes many of the terms merit shop contractors find most objectionable. The PLA requires contractors to recognize the unions as the sole representatives of the employees working the project, it requires merit shop contractors to displace their existing workforces and accept workers from union hiring halls, and it forces contractors to pay into union pension and benefits funds even though their workers will not be able to access the contributions unless they become vested with the union.
As a result of these unnecessary and discriminatory provisions, the vast majority of merit shop contractors simply won’t bid on projects subject to PLA mandates. The reduced competition has been found to dramatically increase construction costs. Numerous studies show PLAs can increase construction costs by nearly 20 percent or more, in some cases. On the $14 million Butler County Government Annex project, this means taxpayers could be asked to pay for more than $2.5 million in unnecessary construction costs.
Some PLA proponents say they ensure workers receive a fair wage and, as a result, sometimes construction costs are slightly elevated on projects subject to PLA mandates. This project is subject to the Pennsylvania prevailing wage law, which means all of the workers on the project will be paid essentially union scale regardless of whether there is a PLA.
This PLA mandate is nothing more than a handout to construction union bosses at the expense of the vast majority of the construction workforce that chooses not to join a union. The county is scheduled to open bids for the $14 million Butler County Government Annex on April 17. Here at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com, we strongly encourage the Butler County Board of Commissioners to reconsider their decision to require a PLA or delay the bid opening date to allow commissioners and the general public to learn more about the impact of this PLA mandate.
If you live in the Butler County area, we encourage you to contact Commissioners William L. McCarrier, A. Dale Pinkerton, and James Eckstein by phone at (724) 284-5100 to encourage them to remove the PLA requirement.
April 15 Update: The county is now scheduled to open bids for the project on April 24. The bid date was postponed due to circumstances unrelated to the PLA issue.