In a recent letter to the U.S. House, SMACNA stated its strong opposition to the PERRY Amendment to H.R. 4974, the Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs Act of 2017 to ban PLA’s on public construction.
Under government financed PLA’s, competing construction contractors and prospective workers are solicited for PLA projects regardless of their union or nonunion status as required by law. In comparison, private sector owners are free to select union-only PLA’s to build their high quality and often highly complex projects. Private owners frequently take advantage of their freedom to contract with a skilled and formally trained workforce employed by highly regarded contractors as an economic decision. Federal PLA’s are determined through an open bidding process for all contractors and workers, contrary to the myth Rep. Perry (R-PA) has advanced in his amendment to H.R. 4974. Rep. Perry’s ban on PLA’s is an attack on a proven private sector practice enhancing management discretion.
SMACNA’s position supports the option of considering and utilizing PLA’s where deemed in the best economic interest of the project owner on behalf of the taxpayer on public work. Therefore, we stand in opposition to amendments or ANY legislation banning the option of using project labor agreements on federal construction. Further, we have joined other organizations in supporting President Obama in 2009 for signing the Executive Order 13502 encouraging executive agencies to consider the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) on all federal-funded construction projects. The Administration’s action reversed past hostility toward using any PLA-managed projects and this fair consideration of PLA’s is a great source of optimism to our leadership and the thousands of contractors we represent.
From decades of real life experience on projects where PLA’s have been used, our firms know that project agreements are a voluntary, legal and most often highly efficient means of meeting construction quality standards, owner deadlines and unique project demands. For this reason, most PLA’s are found on private projects where corporate budget and scheduling decisions are highly scrutinized. SMACNA believes that utilizing project agreements on federal construction when and where appropriate expands the proprietary responsibility the President is charged with under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act and offers the likely result of decreased costs, higher quality and expedited project completions. Smart construction management calls for the federal government, like the private sector, to have the option to consider and establish project agreements where necessary and appropriate. While banning the use of PLA’s on large federal projects may have found favor in certain ideological circles, unfortunately it has not served sound construction management in all cases. Economics, not ideology or anti-labor sentiments, should drive PLA debates and votes in Congress.