Following the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania’s Jan. 11 decision to strike down the state Department of Transportation’s project labor agreement mandate for the Markley Street reconstruction project, PennDOT withdrew their appeal of the decision on March 7.
In August 2017, PennDOT issued a solicitation that contained a PLA requirement on the second phase of the Markley Street project, which would have required bidders to hire from designated union halls rather than use their own employees.
After public opposition to the requirement and PennDOT issuing a revised PLA mandate in December 2017, ABC members Allan Myers and J.D. Eckman Inc. filed suit, challenging PennDOT’s demonstration of discriminatory bidding practices.
Nearly two years after the suit was filed, the Commonwealth Court ruled that PennDOT’s PLA mandate violated the state’s competitive bidding laws and discriminated against nonunion contractors, resulting in a victory for Allan Myers and J.D. Eckman and merit shop contractors throughout Pennsylvania.
PennDOT filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in mid-February but shortly withdrew their appeal less than one month after filing. PennDOT did not release a statement on their decision not to seek an appeal.
The court’s ruling saved the public $4.7 million on the Markley Street project, representing nearly a 20 percent savings. The three lowest bidders on the job were all effectively precluded from bidding under the original bid solicitation containing a PLA. After the lowest PLA bidder withdrew, Allan Myers was the low bidder and was awarded the work for $23.9 million.
PLA mandates discriminate against the 86 percent of private-sector construction workers nationwide who choose not to join a union. In Pennsylvania, just 21.7 percent of the construction workforce is unionized. Research has also found PLA mandates can increase construction costs by 12 percent to 18 percent, resulting in fewer infrastructure projects and reduced construction industry job creation.