The California Legislature is set to break new ground and taxpayers should be very concerned.
For the first time in state history, the Legislature is posed to require a local government entity to mandate a project labor agreement (PLA) on a local construction project.
If Assembly Bill 155, sponsored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D), is passed by the California Senate, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency would have to require contractors working on the proposed $25 million Interlake Tunnel project to enter into a wasteful and discriminatory PLA as a condition of performing work if the project is built using the design-build construction delivery method.
This is bad news for California taxpayers, who could be asked to pay millions in unnecessary construction costs on the Interlake Tunnel project. PLA mandates have been found to increase construction costs by as much as 20 percent.
But this exchange is not beneficial to most Californians—in addition to needlessly increasing costs, a PLA mandate on this project would deprive the 84 percent of California’s construction industry workforce that chooses not to join a union of the opportunity to compete fairly for this project.
Policymakers need to stretch their infrastructure construction budgets by being as efficient as possible. But PLA mandates are a barrier to this goal, making much-needed infrastructure projects more expensive and serve only as costly handouts to political interest groups, like construction labor unions.
For the sake of taxpayers and the construction industry in California, we urge legislators to remove the PLA mandate from Assembly Bill 155.