ABC can confirm recent media reports that President Joe Biden is circulating a draft executive order to federal agencies that will modify and expand President Obama’s Executive Order 13502, which encourages federal agencies to require project labor agreements on a case-by-case basis on federal construction projects exceeding $25 million in total value and permits states and localities to mandate PLAs on federally assisted projects.
“While the timing and details of the proposed executive order promoting government-mandated PLAs have not been announced, it is concerning that the Biden administration is considering the expansion of anti-competitive and costly PLA schemes on taxpayer-funded construction projects,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC’s vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Lose-lose policies encouraging or requiring PLAs on federal and federally assisted construction projects will needlessly increase the cost of infrastructure improvements, discourage competition from the best small and large contractors and deny jobs to local construction workers who freely choose not to be affiliated with unions.”
“The bottom line is that widespread use of government-mandated PLAs on taxpayer-funded construction projects will undermine the Biden administration’s goal and promise to the American people to rebuild America’s infrastructure, create more affordable housing and transition to a clean energy economy,” said Brubeck. “Because 87% of the construction workforce does not belong to a union and the construction industry faces a skilled labor shortage of 430,000 people in 2021 alone, the Biden administration would be best served by promoting inclusive policies that welcome all of America’s construction industry to rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure, increase accountability and competition and reduce waste and favoritism in the procurement of taxpayer-funded federal and federally assisted construction contracts.”
ABC continues to deploy public relations, grassroots, legislative, legal, regulatory and other advocacy tactics to push back on pro-PLA policies advanced by the Biden administration via executive order or Congress via legislation.
Thanks in part to ABC and the merit shop contracting community’s advocacy efforts, President Obama’s pro-PLA order and related regulations resulted in just 12 PLAs on almost 1,900 large-scale federal construction projects valued at $117 billion from FY 2009 to FY 2020, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and creating opportunities for all federal contractors to compete for federal agency construction contracts. ABC members won more than 57% of 1,889 federal contracts exceeding $25 million from FY 2009 to FY 2020.
In addition, a total of 27 states passed legislation restricting government-mandated PLAs on state, state-assisted and local construction projects to some degree since 2009. The 24 states that currently protect taxpayers by restricting government-mandated PLAs on state and local construction projects may offer a level of protection against policies encouraging PLAs on federally assisted construction projects, such as pro-PLA policies promoted by the U.S. Department of Treasury and U.S. Department of Transportation.
However, the proposed executive order will impact federal construction contracts procured directly by federal agencies.
ABC members are encouraged to write to the Biden administration via an ABC grassroots campaign in opposition to the proposed executive order expanding the use of PLAs on federal construction contracts.
Stakeholders also have until July 15 to write the Treasury in opposition to their encouragement of PLAs on federally assisted water, sewer and broadband projects procured by state and local governments and funded by federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Stay tuned for additional updates and if you have not done so already, please ask lawmakers to support ABC-supported legislation, the Fair and Open Competition Act, in Congress.