Two contractor groups have asked a New York district court to look into a recent ruling in favor of project labor agreements between NYC and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC). The groups, the Building Industry Electrical Contractors Association and the United Electrical Contractors Association, filed a notice of appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for the Southern District of New York on August 31.

The filing follows U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson Jr.’s ruling in early August that PLAs between the city and the BCTC, an umbrella group that represents about 50 local trades unions, do not violate the National Labor Relations Act. The contractor groups claim, however, that the PLAs reduce the pool of contractors that bid, making it too expensive for some contractors to even bid at all, says Alan Pollock, a partner with NYC law firm Robinson Brog Leinward Greene Genovese & Gluck, who is representing the contractors.

PLAs, which are created to standardize work rules on labor projects to avoid strikes on massive, multi-trade projects, are not usually required on small single-trade projects, Pollock says. But the PLAs in question cover small projects, some of which have not yet been designed, he says.

“If you are a member of a union [under the BCTC], you have just been handed 88% of the work on a PLA workforce,” Pollock says. “If you are not in a union under the BCTC, you have just been put at a disadvantage.”

Pollock says he does not expect that the city will vacate the PLAs with the BCTC unless it is ordered to, but “the question is whether they’re going to have to reevaluate all or some of the PLAs that they have enacted,” Pollock says.

"The court's decision was based on well-established law--including a U.S. Supreme Court ruling," says Jonathan Becker, the city's attorney. "PLAs are lawful and we are confident that we will prevail on appeal."

(This story originally was originally published on 9/13. It was updated on 9/15.)