The merit shop construction industry celebrated a victory Feb. 27 when the Santa Fe City Council in New Mexico repealed a controversial ordinance that required the use of wasteful and discriminatory community workforce agreements (CWAs) on all city-funded projects costing more than $500,000. 

The ordinance was adopted unanimously more than a year ago and required contractors to abide by all of the wasteful and discriminatory terms found in project labor agreements, including recognizing the construction unions as the sole representatives of all the workers on a covered project, hiring from union hiring halls, paying into union health and pension funds on behalf of employees who would be unlikely to access the funds, and adhering to inefficient and outdated union work rules. Since the council adopted the policy, no construction projects have been built under it.

Had the ordinance been upheld, taxpayers would have seen much higher costs on public construction costs. For the construction community, this ordinance would have made it nearly impossible for the 93.6 percent of New Mexico’s construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor organization to fairly compete for projects funded by their own tax dollars. 

“Here in New Mexico, ABC was able to prove that if you are in the right, and you are persistent, and you present coherent, factual evidence in a professional manner, you can prevail” said ABC New Mexico Chapter President Roxanne Rivera-Weist. “We stayed the course for this past year, and never gave up.”