More Data: Project Labor Agreement Schemes Hurt Vast Majority of U.S. Construction Workforce
TheTruthAboutPLAs.com previously reported that more than 88% of the U.S. construction industry workforce does not belong to a union. Government data collected and published by UnionStats.com provides this information for each state’s construction industry workforce. How does your state rank?
In More Than Half of U.S. States, at Least 90% of the Construction Workforce Does Not Belong to a Union
WASHINGTON, April 13—According to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of 2022 state union membership data published recently by UnionStats.com, at least 9 out of 10 construction workers in private industry do not belong to a union in 26 states, up from 24 states in 2021. Nationwide, a record 88.3% of the construction industry workforce do not belong to a union, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 87.4% in 2021.
“Data continue to suggest that the vast majority of construction industry professionals freely choose not to join a union,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “This illustrates why it makes no sense for the Biden administration to continue to advance controversial policies requiring workers on federal and federally assisted construction projects to join a union and/or pay union dues through schemes like project labor agreements and other anti-competitive and inflationary policies. Worker choice and freedoms create immense value for taxpayers and the construction industry, yet the Biden administration continues to undermine these principles with burdensome regulations that needlessly raise costs on taxpayer-funded construction projects and steer contracts to unionized contractors and workers.”
The construction industry awaits a final rule implementing President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14063, which requires project labor agreements on federal construction projects of $35 million or more. Research has found government-mandated PLAs increase infrastructure project costs by 12% to 20%. The Biden administration is also pushing state and local governments applying for more than $250 billion in federal infrastructure grants to require PLAs in order to enhance their ability to receive federal money. This executive overreach will also exacerbate the construction industry’s skilled labor shortage of more than half a million people by excluding the 88% of the industry that chooses not to join a union and will undermine taxpayer investments in America’s infrastructure and clean energy projects.
“ABC will continue to challenge anti-competitive regulations that favor special interests and advocate for all construction workers to be welcome to build taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects,” said Brubeck.
About Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements
Government-mandated PLAs typically force contractors to recognize unions as the representatives of their employees and hire most or all employees from the union hiring hall and union apprenticeship programs. Employers must also follow union work rules and pay into union benefit and multiemployer pension plans, in addition to any existing benefit plans, putting them at a significant competitive disadvantage.
Government-mandated PLAs also effectively cause many nonunion construction workers to experience wage theft, as workers lose an estimated 34% of wages and benefits earned on a PLA project unless they accept unwanted union representation, join a specific union, pay membership dues and meet the union benefits plans’ vesting requirements.
Controversial PLA terms reduce competition, increase costs and deny opportunities to nonunion construction workers employed by nonunion contractors, according to research and surveys of the construction industry.
A broad coalition of construction industry stakeholders and taxpayer advocacy and government watchdog groups strongly support the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1209 / S. 537), which has been reintroduced in the 118th Congress by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., in the U.S. Senate, and Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., in the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 27.
The Fair and Open Competition Act encourages more qualified construction companies to compete for federal and federally funded construction projects, providing the best value for taxpayers while benefiting all of the construction industry.
State and local legislation similar to the Fair and Open Competition Act restricting government-mandated PLAs on state, local and publicly financed construction projects has gained popularity since 2010, as Wyoming recently passed its own version of FOCA. Once in effect on July 1, 2023, Wyoming will be the 25th state with an active policy restricting the use of government-mandated PLAs.