There is a new bill introduced by Representative Mulvaney , a Republican from S.C., that will increase fair and open competition on federal and federally funded construction projects. The bill is named the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 1671). This bill essentially will prevent federal agencies from requiring construction companies and contractors to sign project labor agreements, referred to as PLA, in order to win a bid for federal or federally assisted construction contracts.
Many people believe that project labor agreement mandates only restrict competition of qualified contractors and drive up the costs of these jobs costing taxpayers more money. 86.1 percent of private contractors choose to build their business outside of the labor unions which prohibits them from working on these projects unless they agree to join the union or pay Union fees and dues. Director of Labor and Federal Procurement at Associated Builders and Contractors, Ben Brubeck, believes that eliminating the requirements of PLA will decrease the cost to taxpayers and increase competition allowing for better quality work.
Studies have shown that these government mandated PLAs increase the cost of construction projects across numerous different markets on an average of 12 to 18 percent when compared with similar other non- PLA projects. When a garment agency mandates that a PLA be signed construction contracts are only awarded to companies who agree to let the union represent their workforce, use the union hall to hire skilled labor instead of other qualified employees, obtain apprentices through the union apprentice programs, follow union work rules, and pay into union benefit and multi- employer pension programs, and force workers to join the union and pay union dues.
Obama’s executive order 13502 in 2009 encouraging the use of PLAs has led to 20 states enacting legislation and executive orders to restrict PLA requirements since 2011. Since then three more states have joined making the total number 23 states with legislation lifting the PLA requirement.
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