The battles over project labor agreements continue, and show no signs of abating.
On Sept. 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld a Michigan law that banned project labor agreements on state projects.
Business-oriented groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors cheered the decision. “This decision has national implications and makes crystal clear that Michigan and other states can pursue equal opportunity in public contracting regardless of labor affiliation,” says Chris Fisher, president of ABC’s Michigan chapter.
ABC is on a crusade to end government-mandated PLAs on projects, and thus far, 18 states have enacted laws banning such agreements in some shape or form.
But unions contend that PLAs ensure that projects run smoothly. Brent Booker, secretary-treasurer of the North American Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), says PLAs are a “win-win” proposition. The BCTD says that PLAs have been used successfully on dozens of sports stadiums around the country.
Booker was on hand for a Sept. 10 announcement at the Nationals ballpark in Washington, D.C., that the city would use a PLA on a new $300-million soccer stadium for the D.C. United team.
The PLA, modeled after the agreement that was used on the Nationals ballpark, stipulates that union labor will be used for all subcontracts valued above $6 million. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) emphasized that non-union firms are free to bid on any phase of construction and to take advantage of union training programs.