Component 23 – 2
Search Newsline

On Friday, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore issued revisions to his previous executive order (01.01.2023.19) regarding project labor agreement usage on large-scale state construction of $20 million or more in total project cost. These changes center around the use of PLAs on design-build and progressive design-build public works, the presence of federal assistance in project finances and the requirements around notification of decisions on PLA use in project solicitation documents.

These changes are assumed to be directly related to the rebuild of the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Port of Baltimore that collapsed on March 26 after being struck by a container ship. Both federal and state stakeholders are engaged in the planning stages of the rebuild, including the Maryland Transportation Authority and the Federal Highway Administration, and ongoing regulatory and political wrangling will determine the financial and construction-related delivery of the project. Democratic leadership in both Maryland and the federal administration are assumed to heavily favor PLA use and other organized labor-friendly procurement policies in procurement of services for the rebuild.

Specifically, the new order from Gov. Moore declares where “receipt of federal funding or reimbursement” is present, state discretion will determine whether that investment is included in the triggering financial amount of $20 million or more in project cost for PLA use.

It also declares that, in a public multiphase design-build or progressive design-build project, written notification of the findings around the decision to use PLAs or to include the use of PLAs as an evaluation factor will not be required until the construction phase of the project, and written notification of the inclusion of PLAs and/or PLA-related evaluation factors in that phase will be provided in the initial solicitation.

Additionally, the order includes language declaring that, “in a multi-phase design build or progressive design build public work contract, the consideration of community hiring, training, and/or outreach plan for high unemployment areas is not required until the build/construction phase of the project.”

These changes seem to be related to the recent request for proposals for the multiphase bridge rebuild project issued by the Maryland Department of Transportation that directly addresses PLA use, specifying that the “MDTA will be evaluating whether to require a PLA for Phase 2 of this Project, subject to FHWA approval. … If a PLA is not utilized, the Design-Builder shall work with MDTA to include workforce development opportunities for the construction trades.”

The order from Gov. Moore, the RFP for the bridge rebuild and public indications from officials indicate that PLA use on the rebuild will be heavily considered and state policy may accommodate those decisions. The results of those decisions remain to be seen.

Under leadership of the three Maryland ABC chapters—ABC of Greater Baltimore, ABC Chesapeake Shores and ABC Metro Washington—and other stakeholders, an industry coalition effort, the MD Coalition 4 Fairness and Open Competition, is underway to educate Maryland taxpayers, the governor’s office and state regulatory officials and legislators on the harmful effects of government-mandated PLAs on public works, monitor their use in the state and find alternative outcomes when considering large-scale projects. For more information on this effort and to take grassroots action to communicate with Maryland officials, visit the coalition website and share the below image and QR code to spread the message.

ABC National and the MD Coalition 4 Fairness and Open Competition will continue to monitor the conversation around government-mandated PLAs in Maryland, including their specific use on the Francis Scott Key Bridge rebuild, and will provide relevant updates.