The ABC Inland Pacific Chapter and the State of Idaho May 6 made oral arguments in an appeal of a December 2011 ruling that struck down two statutes of importance to merit shop contractors.  

The first state law prohibited public entities from requiring contractors to sign PLAs as a condition of performing work on Idaho public works projects. The second Idaho law prohibited organized labor from using union market recovery funds in Idaho on either public or private construction projects.  

In the December 2011 decision, a federal district court ruled that both statutes are preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The lower court also denied the ABC Inland Pacific Chapter’s motion to intervene.  In the appeal, a representative from the Idaho attorney general’s office argued the lower court’s ruling should be overturned and the Inland Pacific’s attorney argued that ABC should be allowed to intervene in the case.  ABC also filed amicus briefs in support of the State.

In addition, both attorneys argued that the complaint against the PLA reform statute is now moot because Idaho enacted a second government neutrality statute in 2012 addressing the concerns raised by the district court judge in the December 2011 opinion.

ABC’s and the state’s arguments in support of the PLA reform law are consistent with the controlling case law as established in Building and Construction Trades Dep’t, AFL-CIO v. Allbaugh (D.C. Cir. 2002). In that case, the court upheld the right of President George W. Bush to issue an executive order banning government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted construction projects.

“The job targeting and PLA reform statutes are both critical to the construction industry in our state,” said Kate McCaslin, president of the ABC Inland Pacific Chapter.  “The people of Idaho have been clear --  Idaho is open for business to all contractors and their employees— not just those who are willing to abide by Big Labor’s demands.  We hope the court will recognize the will of the people of this state and uphold these important laws.”

Sixteen states have enacted laws and executive orders that prohibit public entities from requiring contractors to sign PLAs as a condition of performing work on public construction projects.  In addition to the Idaho suit, local affiliates of the International Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO filed federal complaints in response to PLA reform statutes or executive orders in Iowa, Michigan and Louisiana.  In 2011, the Iowa complaint was thrown out by a federal district court judge on its merits before trial.  In Michigan, a district court judge ruled in favor of the union complaint and the state’s appeal will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in June.  The complaint in Louisiana was filed in 2013 and is now in the pre-trial phase.

For more information about government-mandated PLAs, visit www.thetruthaboutplas.com, Facebook.com/thetruthaboutplas and Twitter.com/truthaboutplas.