On Feb. 23, ABC and a coalition of 19 associations and organizations representing the construction industry and business community sent Congress a letter of support for the Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 403/H.R. 1284), sponsored by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. and Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C.
The Fair and Open Competition Act would prevent federal agencies and recipients of federal assistance from requiring or encouraging contractors to sign a controversial project labor agreement as a condition of winning a federal or federally assisted, taxpayer-funded construction contract.
“Co-sponsoring the Fair and Open Competition Act is critical in light of President Biden’s Feb. 4, 2022, E.O. 14063, which requires PLAs on federal construction projects of $35 million or more,” the letter states. “PLA mandates exacerbate the construction industry’s skilled labor shortage of 650,000 workers in 2022 by unfairly discouraging competition from quality nonunion contractors and their employees, who comprise 87.4% of the private U.S. construction industry workforce.”
“Support for the FOCA bill would also protect state and local construction projects receiving federal money from government-mandated PLA schemes,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC’s vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs.
The Biden administration is “promoting PLAs on federally assisted projects procured by state and local governments competing for federal dollars authorized and funded through bipartisan legislation—like the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act of 2021 and other bills—that do not require or encourage the use of PLAs on taxpayer-funded construction projects,” the letter states.
PLAs reduce competition and increase costs and are likely to result in delays, poor local hiring outcomes and litigation. Multiple studies of taxpayer-funded affordable housing and school construction projects found that government PLA mandates increase the cost of construction by 12% to 20% compared to similar non-PLA projects already subjected to prevailing wage regulations. Simply put, hardworking taxpayers get less and pay more when PLAs are encouraged or mandated during the procurement of federal and federally assisted construction projects.
The coalition concluded that opposing President Biden’s pro-PLA EO and any legislative and regulatory language promoting controversial government-mandated PLAs on spending bills, coupled with support of the Fair and Open Competition Act, will create a level playing field in the procurement of government construction contracts, increase competition, help small businesses grow, decrease construction costs and spread the job-creating benefits of federal and federally funded contracts throughout the construction industry.”
ABC members and construction industry stakeholders can learn more about EO 14063 here (and this new FAQ document) and urge their lawmakers to cosponsor the FOCA legislation via this ABC grassroots campaign.