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An Idaho appeals court May 22 sent a lawsuit related to project labor agreements (PLAs) and job targeting back to a district court in order to allow the union groups who filed the lawsuit to add defendants and to give both sides a chance to revise arguments.

The original lawsuit was filed against two statutes that affect merit shop contractors. The first was to prohibit 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.  

A decision was issued in December 2011 by a district court striking down both statutes. In the appeal, oral arguments were made May 6 by ABC Inland Pacific Chapter and the State of Idaho. 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.
The appeals court remanded the decision to a lower court because of the second government neutrality statute issued.

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, and