CNBC Op-Ed: Eliminating Federal Policy Promoting Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements Should Be A Policy Cornerstone of Trump Infrastructure Plan

0 February 1, 2018  Featured, Federal Construction

CNBC published commentary from contributor Ben Brubeck, which called for reforms to the federal policy encouraging the use of anti-competitive and costly government-mandated project labor agreements on large-scale federal construction projects (“Five policy cornerstones for Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan,” 2/1/18). Check out this passage and the four other recommended policy cornerstones (permitting reform, increase the use of P3s, address America’s skilled workforce shortage, embrace technology, and enact key regulatory rollbacks like rescinding the failed pro-PLA policy enacted by President Obama) of President Trump’s forthcoming infrastructure plan:

Finally, government must eliminate or rewrite antiquated, ineffective and costly procurement and employment regulations that are a drag on America’s infrastructure investments and its modern economy. Numerous regulations unique to the construction industry discourage competition and steer contracts to special interests at the expense of small businesses and local companies that can deliver to taxpayers the best possible product at the best possible price.

For example, President Trump should rescind a failed Obama administration policy, Executive Order 13502, which encourages the use of government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on large-scale federal construction contracts and permits their use on federally assisted projects procured by state and local governments.

Government-mandated PLAs force contractors to hire unfamiliar labor from union hiring halls and require nonunion construction workers to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment, which discourages competition from qualified American businesses and the 86 percent of the U.S. construction workforce not affiliated with labor unionsResearch shows PLA mandates increase the cost of construction by 12 percent to 18 percent.

In contrast, a total of 24 states have enacted policies encouraging fair and open competition and the federal government should follow this example. It would be a win-win for taxpayers and the U.S. economy if lawmakers supported an inclusive policy so all Americans and all qualified companies can truly compete to make America’s infrastructure great again at a price that is right for taxpayers.

A winning plan must adopt these policy cornerstones in order to efficiently and effectively modernize our infrastructure and drive economic growth and prosperity for all Americans.

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