Action Center
Tell lawmakers to restore fairness in federal contracting by restricting anti-competitive and costly government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal and federally assisted construction projects. Ask your representatives in the 114th Congress to cosponsor the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 1671/S. 71) via this user-friendly Grassroots Action Center Alert.

The Truth About PLAs

ABC strongly opposes government-mandated Project labor agreements on public construction projects
Anti-competitive project labor agreements (PLAs) are special interest schemes that end open, fair and competitive bidding on public works projects. PLAs drive up the cost of construction by reducing competition and effectively excluding merit shop contractors and their skilled employees from building projects paid for by their own tax dollars.
Project Labor Agreements
Not What We Need, Not What We Deserve
Learn more about project labor agreements (PLAs) by clicking on the video or viewing the PLA fact sheet.

ABC Opposes Government-Mandated PLAs and PLA Preferences on Federal and Federally Assisted Construction Projects

On Feb. 6, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13502, which encourages federal agencies, on a case-by-case basis, to require project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction contracts exceeding $25 million in total cost. Since 2009, ABC has executed a successful campaign against Executive Order 13502 and government-mandated PLAs in federal contracting through effective legislative, political, legal and public relations strategies.

Learn why ABC is still winning the fight against government-mandated PLAs.

However, the fight against PLA mandates and PLA preferences on direct federal contracts is a costly endeavor negatively impacting taxpayers, federal agencies and the contracting community.  Unfortunately, when state and local recipients of federal money and assistance mandate PLAs on projects in your community, taxpayers are getting less construction projects for more money and qualified contractors and their skilled nonunion employees are the victims of discrimination.

It’s important for lawmakers to support the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 1671/S. 71) and/or other legislative measures that would restore fairness and neutrality in government contracting and put an end to President Obama’s costly crony contracting schemes advanced by Executive Order 13502. Ask your lawmakers to cosponsor this important legislation via this #NoPLAs Action Alert from ABC's Grassroots Action Center.

ABC’s one-pager on Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements.
ABC and a diverse coalition of construction industry and employer groups urge lawmakers to support the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 1671/S. 71) and/or other legislative efforts to restore fairness and neutrality in government contracting that will put an end to President Obama’s costly crony contracting schemes advanced by Executive Order 13502 and related regulations.

ABC members and the contracting community can contact their lawmakers via this #NoPLAs Action Alert and ask their lawmakers to cosponsor the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act in the 114th Congress.

Resources:

On February 6, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13502, Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects.

The order encourages federal agencies, on a project-by-project basis, to mandate PLAs on federal construction projects exceeding $25 million in total cost. In addition, the order's regulations permit (it does not require) private, state and local recipients of federal assistance to mandate PLAs. The order also repealed President George W. Bush's Executive Orders 13202 and 13208, which prohibited PLA mandates on federal and federally assisted projects from 2001-2009.

ABC and other industry groups were critical of a July 10, 2009, White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo M-09-22 to federal agency heads implementing the Obama order in advance of a FAR proposed rule.

July 14, 2009, the federal register published a notice for proposed rulemaking for FAR Case 2009-005, Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects. ABC and ABC members and employees submitted the following comments to the FAR's proposed rule:
April 12, 2010, the official White House blog posted a piece by Jared Bernstein, Middle Class Task Force Chair and Chief Economic Advisor to the Vice President, called Project Labor Agreements: A Better Deal for All, in defense of President Obama's pro-PLA policies. 

On April 13, 2010, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council issued a final rule, effective May 13, 2010, implementing President Obama's February 6, 2009, pro-PLA Executive Order 13502, The OMB also issued a memo, Implementation of New Regulatory Coverage on Project Labor Agreements, to federal agency Chief Acquisition Officers and Senior Procurement Executives, encouraging them to use PLAs whenever possible and requesting that they report their agency's PLA activity to the OMB on a quarterly basis.

On April 21, 2010, ABC National released, The Final Rule Implementing the PLA Executive Order: Why It Should Be Challenged, by ABC general counsel Maurice Baskin. This document lays out ABC's arguments that the regulations violate federal procurement laws; discriminate against the vast majority of the private construction workforce and many small and large businesses; and harm taxpayers. Many of these arguments echo comments ABC, ABC members and other industry groups made during the proposed rulemaking process.

Since the FAR's final rule was finalized, federal agencies procuring direct federal contracts have issued the following specific guidance memos and policies implementing the final rule into their agency procurement policies:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC)
Department of Veterans Affairs
General Services Administration

The GSA has instituted a discriminatory blanket pro-PLA policy that allows firms to submit a PLA offer, a non-PLA offer, or both with their bid. However, firms that submit a PLA offer receive extra credit (usually 10%) from the GSA in the technical evaluation factor section of their offer via the best value procurement process the GSA uses to award contracts. Contractors have complained to Congress this is a de facto PLA mandate in many markets and is reducing competition and increasing costs. The GSA's pro-PLA policy has led to delays, increased costs, and poor local hiring outcomes. Learn more here and below are various versions of GSA's PLA policy.
Federal Agency Decision-Making Process

Since President Obama's EO is not a blanket PLA requirement, federal agencies use a variety of tools and policies to determine if a PLA is appropriate on a project exceeding $25 million in total costs. The GSA has a controversial blanket PLA preference policy, while other agencies (USACE, NAVFAC and VA) issue formal surveys to the federal contracting community on FBO.gov to see if a PLA is supported by the contracting community. Some agencies (DOL, VA and GSA) hire expensive consultants to produce studies, while others call federal contractors directly and use this information to inform their final PLA determination. The decision-making process even varies between regional offices in each federal agency and the process requires an excessive investment of time and resources from the federal contracting community.

Federally Assisted Projects


In addition to an increase in PLA requirements on direct federal contracts, President Obama's Executive Order 13502 has led to PLA mandates on billions of dollars worth of federally assisted projects procured by private entities and state and local governments.

For example, a calendar year 2009 to December 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) report indicated FHWA funding recipients mandated PLAs on 323 contracts in six states worth an estimated $8.126 billion and 51 contracts in Chicago worth $769 million.

While the order does not require recipients of federal assistance to mandate PLAs, federal agencies like the DOT, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Department of Energy (DOE) have been inappropriately encouraging their funding recipients to mandate PLAs.

For example, this “Project Labor Agreement Announcement” memo emailed on February 18, 2011, to an unknown number of state and local government agencies from Peter Rogoff, a political appointee of the Obama Administration who serves as the head of the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) (an agency of the U.S. DOT), strongly encourages the use of PLAs.

However, the FTA issued this document, FTA Guidance – Project Labor Agreements (issued 6/21/10), available here. The FTA Guidance document makes it clear recipients of FTA funding are not required to mandate or enter into PLAs. It also says recipients of FTA money do not have to seek FTA approval of the PLA, should they choose to mandate a PLA.  In contrast, the U.S. DOT FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez issued a May 7, 2010, Interim Guidance on the use of Project Labor Agreements memo (pdf). While it only applies to FHWA projects, the FHWA requires recipients of FHWA assistance to submit the local PLA mandate to FHWA for approval.

In short, it may be confusing to stakeholders why two different agencies within the U.S. DOT have different requirements when approving local/state PLAs on projects receiving assistance from the DOT..

Conclusion
The regulations implementing President Obama's pro-PLA Executive Order 13502 has led to increased costs, reduced competition, discrimination, delays, litigation, construction defects and poor local hiring outcomes on billions of dollars of direct federal construction contracts and federally assisted contracts. This bad public policy results in taxpayers receiving four schools, roads, bridges and hospitals for the price of five. Fair and open competition is the only way to ensure taxpayers get the best possible product at the best possible price.
A July 12, 2012, TruthAboutPLAs.com blog post, Understanding Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements and the Law, provides an overview of important PLA-related legal cases such as Boston Harbor (1993) and Allbaugh (2002).

During President Obama’s first term, federal contractors (with assistance from ABC) filed five bid protests with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) against PLAs mandated by federal agencies. Each bid protest resulted in the federal agency removing the PLA mandate in the face of the protest.  A January 22, 2013, TruthaboutPLAs.com blog post, Legal Challenges Against Federal Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements During President Obama's First Term, summarizes these legal tactics to fight government-mandated PLAs and President Obama's Executive Order 13502.

Visit TheTruthAboutPLAs.com for detailed information and talking points about government-mandated projects labor agreements (PLAs).

To stay up to date on legislative, regulatory and media alerts and developments in our fight against government-mandated PLAs "Like" our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheTruthAboutPLAs and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/TruthAboutPLAs (@TruthAboutPLAs).
A total of 22 states (Maine's law sunset in October 2015, dropping the total from 23 to 22 states) have enacted legislation and/or executive orders that increase competition and guarantee fair treatment of all contractors and their employees on taxpayer-funded construction projects.  These measures prohibit governments from mandating PLA requirements and preferences on state and state-assisted construction projects, but permit firms to voluntarily enter into PLAs after they
have won contracts via a normal competitive bidding process.

In response to the threat of President Obama's anti-competitive and discriminatory pro-PLA policies, 20 states have enacted legislation or executive orders restoring government-neutrality in contracting since 2010.

In contrast, a number of states controlled by Democrat governors and  legislatures have enacted policies encouraging the use of PLAs on state and state-assisted projects.

Finally, a number of local governments have instituted policies restricting and encouraging government-mandated PLAs.

Here is a complete list of states and localities that have enacted #NoPLAs measures, as of November 2015.

Appeals Court Upholds Idaho Law Banning Government-Mandated PLAs

ABC and ABC’s Inland Pacific Chapter celebrated a victory Sept. 16 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit set aside a lower court’s decision against an Idaho law that banned government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded construction projects.

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PLA Surveys Issued for Projects in Kentucky and Maryland

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command have issued two surveys soliciting comments from the construction industry on the potential use of project labor agreements (PLA) on projects in Maryland and Kentucky.

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Read the academic studies and reports below to learn more about the failure of union-only PLAs to control construction costs, increase work opportunities, prevent construction delays or improve safety, productivity or quality on construction projects.


Did you know that government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) drive up the cost of construction projects? By unnecessarily limiting bidders and following outdated and inefficient union work rules, researchers have found PLAs consistently and unnecessarily drive up costs on constructions projects. Analysis of numerous academic studies of public construction projects already subject to government-determined prevailing wage laws indicate PLAs increase the cost of construction between 12 percent and 18 percent when compared to similar projects not subject to union-only PLAs.

TheTruthAboutPLAs.com tracks developments with project labor agreement research here and provides a a comprehensive list of PLA studies, research and related blog posts here.

A report by ABC general counsel Maury Baskin, Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements: The Public Record of Poor Performance (2011 Edition), documents the numerous broken promises and mishaps on government-mandated PLA construction projects, such as the infamous Big Dig in Boston.

Likewise, TheTruthAboutPLAs.com tracks subsequent PLA failures like Seattle's Highway 99 tunnel project and other federal, state and local projects around the country.

Finally, TheTruthAboutPLAs.com has documented in the following linked blog posts, how government-mandated PLAs do not guarantee a safe jobsite, nor do PLA mandates ensure compliance with labor laws or better local hiring outcomes for the construction workforce. Some courts have found PLA mandates violate state and federal competitive bidding laws. In fact, some unions and unionized contractors oppose government-mandated PLAs. It might be why unions have struck on PLA projects, calling into question the "value" of typical PLA promises.

In contrast, merit shop workers do not strike, yet they are discouraged from working on PLA projects because they typically have to pay union dues, join a union and/or have fringe benefits like pension contributions earned during the life of a PLA project forfeited into union plans unless they join a union. This report shows how PLA schemes result in a windfall for union benefit plans and increase the cost of construction for nonunion firms.

Government-mandated PLAs remain a scheme to advance the interests of PLA proponents and union bosses at the expense of taxpayers, the contracting community and governments seeking quality construction services.

In contrast, qualified ABC member contractors and their skilled employees safely build world-class taxpayer-funded construction contracts on-time and on-budget without government-mandated PLAs because open competition works. It's the best way to deliver to taxpayers the best possible construction project at the best possible price.

Get the Truth About Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements here.
Federal government reports, hearings and research on government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) can be found at the end of this page at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com.

ABC strongly opposes government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on public construction projects 

Anti-competitive project labor agreements (PLAs) are special interest schemes that end open, fair and competitive bidding on public works projects. PLAs drive up the cost of construction by reducing competition and effectively excluding merit shop contractors and their skilled employees from building projects paid for by their own tax dollars.

Typical PLAs are pre-hire contracts that require projects be awarded only to contractors and subcontractors that agree to:
  • recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on that job
  • use the union hiring hall to obtain most or all construction of their construction workforce
  • obtain apprentices exclusively from union apprenticeship programs
  • pay into underfunded and mismanaged union benefit plans
  • obey costly, restrictive and inefficient union work rules
In the end, government-mandated PLAs prevent taxpayers from getting the best possible product at the best possible price.

Learn more about why ABC is opposed to government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) here.
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Appeals Court Upholds Idaho Law Banning Government-Mandated PLAs

ABC and ABC’s Inland Pacific Chapter celebrated a victory Sept. 16 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit set aside a lower court’s decision against an Idaho law that banned government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded construction projects.

Read More

PLA Surveys Issued for Projects in Kentucky and Maryland

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command have issued two surveys soliciting comments from the construction industry on the potential use of project labor agreements (PLA) on projects in Maryland and Kentucky.

Read More

How You Can Help End Government-Mandated PLAs

The Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 1671/S. 71) aims to protect federal and federally-assisted construction contracts from union-favoring project labor agreements (PLAs) mandated by government agencies. If passed, this legislation will allow merit shop contractors to have a fair chance at competing to rebuild America's infrastructure.

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Calls for PLA and Prevailing Wage Reforms

During his first State of the State address on Feb. 2, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) called for reforms related to project labor agreements (PLAs) and prevailing wage requirements that will help empower Illinois residents and drive economic growth.

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Surveys Issued for PLA Projects in Illinois and Nevada

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has issued two surveys soliciting comments from the construction industry on the potential use of project labor agreements (PLA) on projects in Illinois and Nevada. 

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Army Corps of Engineers Issues Survey Requesting Comments on Potential PLA

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New York District has issued a survey requesting comments from the construction industry on the potential use of a project labor agreement (PLA) for a beach erosion and dredging project in Sea Bright, New Jersey.

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USACE Issues Two PLA Surveys

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is requesting comments from the construction industry in response to the potential use of government-mandated project labor agreements (PLA) on two projects covering Mississippi, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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ABC and National Black Chamber of Commerce Commit to Promoting Free Enterprise

ABC and the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) signed a joint resolution March 7, expressing a commitment to promoting fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction contracts. The resolution formalizes a long-standing partnership between the organizations who will remain focused on providing value to taxpayers and opportunities for the contracting community by battling government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs).

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Alabama Becomes the 19th State to Ban PLAs on Public Projects

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) March 4 signed legislation which says that government entities within the state cannot require contractors to sign a project labor agreement (PLA), or any other agreement with labor unions, as a condition of performing work on taxpayer-funded construction projects in the state. This bill marks Alabama as the 19th state to adopt PLA reform.

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NAVFAC and USACE Issue PLA Surveys in Hawaii and Colorado

The U.S. Navy’s Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific Acquisition Department is soliciting responses to a survey issued regarding the potential use of a government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA) on a federal contract for the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Omaha District is seeking comments from the construction community addressing the potential use of a PLA within the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area which includes Fort Carson and the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

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