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ABC’s Massachusetts chapter and a coalition of merit shop contractors successfully blocked the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission’s plan for a project labor agreement mandate on a $325 million water filtration plant.

The project is expected to create as many as 500 jobs in all trades. The commission extended the deadline for general contractor to bid on the project by nine days, until June 13.  

“Notwithstanding the lip service the PLA pays to being open to all bidders, it most assuredly is not,” wrote Hampden Superior Court Judge Michael K. Callan in the decision to issue a preliminary injunction against the PLA. “The evidence before the court is that the PLA poses such a significant disadvantage to open shops as to render a competitive bid impossible. For all intents and purposes, the PLA excludes open shops from bidding, as it essentially requires bidders to execute an agreement to use union laborers on the Project.”

“This ruling makes it clear that PLAs discriminate against open shop contractors and reduce competitive bidding,” said ABC Massachusetts President Greg Beeman. "This is a great victory for open competition that benefits our members and the taxpaying public."

MassLive commended the decision in an editorial:

“Kudos to Hampden Superior Court Judge Michael K. Callan for dismantling the flimsy excuses used by the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission to justify using an anti-competitive ‘project labor agreement’ on its $256 million West Parish Water Treatment Plant upgrade.

“The commission’s own consultant, the engineering firm of Hazen and Sawyer, had provided a written report in November that adding a PLA to the project would increase the cost of roughly $15.5 million.

“Judge Callan found that this report had been ‘buried’ and that, instead, the commission board, which voted 2-1 in January to impose the PLA, had been influenced by ‘extensive lobbying efforts’ by union representatives.”

“It’s refreshing to see the legal system and the media see anti-competitive and costly government-mandated PLAs for what they really are,” said ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “We are hopeful that the judge in ABC’s critical lawsuit against the Biden administration’s outrageous push for PLAs on all federal construction projects of $35 million or more will have a similar perspective and rule in favor of taxpayers and fair and open competition.”

ABC’s Lawsuit Against Biden’s Federal PLA Policy Progresses

ABC and its Florida First Coast chapter filed a lawsuit in federal court on March 28 to stop the Biden administration’s unlawful scheme to mandate project labor agreements on construction contracts procured by federal agencies. ABC’s complaint asserts that President Joe Biden lacks the legal and constitutional authority to impose a new federal regulation injuring economy and efficiency in federal contracting and illegally steering construction contracts to certain unionized contractors, which employ roughly 10% of the U.S. construction workforce.

“ABC has heard from large and small federal contractors—including firms signatory to union agreements—and concerned federal agency contracting officers that the Biden administration’s controversial PLA policy has already stifled competition and raised costs on federal construction contracts in Florida and across the country, said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs, in a news release about the lawsuit.” This policy will continue to do so absent a successful legal challenge.”

On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department filed a brief in response to ABC’s April 26 motion for a preliminary injunction. A date for a hearing and oral arguments has not yet been set.

For more information on ABC’s campaign to push back on federal, state and local PLA mandates with other construction industry stakeholders, visit