Politico’s Morning Transportation reports that Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and a coalition of 13 other construction and business associations sent President Trump a Jan. 24, 2018, letter urging the administration to eliminate government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal and federally assisted projects, allowing all qualified contractors and Americans to fairly compete to build and work on these taxpayer-funded projects.
In the letter, the coalition called for “regulatory reform to create a level playing field in the procurement of government construction contracts, increase competition, help small businesses grow, curb construction costs and spread the job-creating benefits of federally funded contracts throughout the entire construction industry.”
“Currently, the construction industry faces a skilled labor shortage of almost 500,000 people,” said the letter. “If the construction industry grows at a modest two to three percent rate over the next few years and an infrastructure bill resulting in an additional $1 trillion worth of construction is added into the equation, the industry could need to fill an additional one million more jobs as early as 2020. Therefore, it makes little sense to continue a policy that artificially restricts the vast majority of skilled American labor and qualified contractors from competing to deliver to taxpayers the best possible product at the best possible price.”
Here’s a passage from an industry publication covering the letter:
According to ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck, eliminating government-mandated PLAs would help companies, U.S. citizens and the economy at large.
“If the Trump Administration creates an inclusive policy so all Americans and all qualified companies can make America’s infrastructure great again, it would be a win-win for taxpayers and the U.S. economy,” Brubeck says.
ABC and the coalition have repeatedly petitioned President Trump to rescind President Obama’s Executive Order 13502, which encourages federal agencies to require project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal contracts to build projects of $25 million or more on a case-by-case basis, and replace it with Executive Orders 13202 and 13208, which prohibit PLAs from being required on federal and federally assisted construction projects.
A total of 24 states have ensured fair and open competition on public works projects by passing measures restricting government-mandated PLAs.
In 2017, ABC members won $3.6 billion of federal contracts worth more than $25 million—more than half of the value of such large-scale contracts.
The recent letter was signed by the following 14 construction and business groups:
American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)
American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA)
American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA)
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)
Business Coalition for Fair Competition (BCFC)
Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT)
Independent Electrical Contractors Association (IEC)
National Association of Government Contractors (NAGC)
National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC)
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA)
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Associated General Contractors sent a similar letter to the Trump administration on January 25.
In 2017, coalition members also sent a letter to the Senate and a letter to the House supporting the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1552/S.622), which would also boost competition on government construction projects and reduce building costs to taxpayers by preventing governments from forcing contractors to sign controversial PLAs in order to compete to build federal and federally assisted construction contracts.
The Senate version of the bill, S. 622, awaits further action in the Senate Homeland Security and Governemnt Affairs Committee.