With little public notice, the Rochester, Minn., City Council in early July approved a project labor agreement (PLA) requirement for the $85 million Mayo Civic Center renovation project.
Bob Heise, president of Associated Builders and Contractors Minnesota/North Dakota Chapter, nicely summed up the negative reaction of the construction industry in an op-ed published by the Rochester Post-Bulletin on July 16:
Associated Builders and Contractors is disappointed the Rochester City Council voted on Monday to approve a project labor agreement mandate on the $85 million Mayo Civic Center expansion. This requirement will increase construction costs and make it nearly impossible for the vast majority of the construction industry workforce to compete fairly for work on this project.
On construction projects where taxpayers are paying the tab, they deserve the best project at the best price. Unfortunately, PLA mandates have a history of increasing costs by as much as 20 percent. On the Mayo Civic Center project, this could mean millions in tax dollars wasted because of this unnecessary mandate.
PLA mandates are also bad for the construction industry. In Minnesota, 72 percent of construction workers choose not to join a union. The discriminatory provisions inherent in PLAs will make it nearly impossible for these hardworking craft professionals to compete for this project, which is funded by their own tax dollars.
Heise’s summary clearly showcases two of the most egregious effects this PLA requirement will have on this community: potentially depriving local contractors and skilled craft professionals of an opportunity to work on a project in their own community and making taxpayers pay an unnecessarily large tab.
Numerous studies have shown that these types of handouts to construction labor unions needlessly increase construction costs by up to 18 percent–and sometimes even more. On the Mayo Civic Center renovation, that means Rochester taxpayers could shell out as much as an additional $10 million in unnecessary construction costs.
We strongly encourage construction industry professionals and taxpayers to contact the Rochester City government at (507) 328-2700 to express concern about this wasteful and discriminatory mandate.