Support local workers and competitive bidding
February 6, 2015
OPINION BY ERIC CHRISTEN
Project Labor Agreements (PLA) discourage fair, open and competitive bidding on public works projects and discriminate against merit-shop workers, a majority of the workers in construction. We believe in increasing opportunities for all workers regardless of their labor affiliation.
PLA are a tool used by local school, city, county, state and federal officials to exclude non-union workers. On construction projects, PLA virtually guarantee that only contractors who agree to big labor’s demands can compete.
Workers must pay costly union dues, even if the employee is not a union member.
All workers must be hired through a union hiring hall. This discriminates against non- union workers. Companies are often forced to lay off proven, productive workers to hire strangers picked by the union bosses.
All employees must contribute to union health, welfare and pension plans, regardless of whether or not the workers already have their own plans. Union plans also require long vesting periods making it unlikely that the non-union worker will see the benefit of their contributions.
All apprentices must come from state approved union programs, discriminating against thousands of apprentices in state approved merit shop programs.
PLA limit competition, meaning fewer jobs and higher costs for taxpayers. PLA discriminate against the 84 percent of California construction workers who choose not to join a union.
PLA drive up costs for construction projects as much as 13-15 percent.
Eric Christen is the head of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.