For Immediate Release
March 30, 2015
Washington, D.C. - Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today voiced its strong support for the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 1671/S. 71). The bill, introduced by Rep. Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), will increase fair and open competition on federal and federally funded construction projects.
In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13502, which strongly encourages the use of government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal and federally funded construction projects. PLAs are job-specific union collective bargaining agreements, which effectively steer construction contracts to unionized firms and ensure projects are built with unionized labor.
“President Obama’s pro-PLA Executive Order is failed public policy that has resulted in increased costs, delays and discrimination against the 86.1 percent of the U.S. private construction workforce that does not belong to a labor union,” said Pamela Volm, 2015 ABC national chair and president of Annapolis Contracting in Annapolis, Md. “In contrast, ABC is fully supportive of the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act because it is a win for taxpayers and the construction industry.
“By restricting the federal government’s ability to require or promote PLAs, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act will create more construction jobs and help taxpayers get the best possible construction project at the best possible price by increasing competition, reducing waste, and eliminating favoritism in the procurement of federal and federally assisted construction contracts,” said Volm. “We urge Congress to immediately pass this common-sense legislation and put an end to these crony contracting schemes.”
In addition to the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, the U.S. Senate March 27 passed Amendment 665offered by Sen. Flake (R-Ariz.) to the Senate’s budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 11), which expresses the sense of the Senate that construction contracts should be awarded without discrimination based on contractors’ agreements with labor organizations. Additionally, West Virginia became the 22nd state to ban PLA mandates on March 26 when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-W.Va.) signed the bipartisan Establishing Fair and Open Competition in Governmental Construction Act. Gov. Tomblin is the first Democratic governor to sign a bill prohibiting PLA mandates. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) March 23 signed into law a bipartisan bill prohibiting PLA mandates that had previously passed both the State Senate and House of Representatives in unanimous votes.
Studies indicate government-mandated PLAs increase the cost of construction projects in numerous markets between 12 percent and 18 percent compared to similar non-PLA projects. When mandated by a government agency on a taxpayer-funded project, a PLA typically ensures construction contracts are awarded only to companies that agree to recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on that job; use the union hiring hall to obtain workers at the expense of existing qualified employees; obtain apprentices through union apprenticeship programs; follow inefficient union work rules; pay into union benefit and multi-employer pension plans; and force workers to pay union dues and/or join a union as a condition of employment.