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Republican governors write Biden opposing PLAs

By |  April 27, 2022
With five of the nation’s 13 most populous cities residing in Texas, demand for construction materials in the Lone Star State is, not surprisingly, very high. Photo: Art Wager/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

More than a dozen Republican governors signed a letter to President Biden opposing his executive order requiring project labor agreements on federal construction projects exceeding $35 million. Photo: Art Wager/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The Associated Builders & Contractors applauded a letter 16 Republican governors sent to President Biden opposing the administration’s policies promoting government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded construction projects.

“As governors, we support policies that ensure robust competition for taxpayer-funded construction projects that welcome all of America’s construction industry to compete to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure on an even playing field,” the governors write. “We oppose Executive Order 14063 requiring controversial government-mandated project labor agreements on federal […] construction contracts funded by taxpayers exceeding $35 million. We call on you to be equitable in your treatment of America’s construction workers whether union or nonunion.”

The letter says PLAs will undermine taxpayer investment in billions of dollars of forthcoming public works projects financed by the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA). The governors also say IIJA and additional legislation Congress passed do not require or encourage PLAs.

The governors are pushing for flexibility and competitiveness within taxpayer-funded construction projects – something they say is lacking in PLAs.

“We ask that the Office of Management & Budget – along with respective federal agencies charged with implementation, grant programs, draft regulations and guidance related to legislation funding infrastructure projects – afford states and localities maximum regulatory flexibility, free from anti-competitive and costly pro-PLA policies,” the governors write. “Doing so will deliver more value to taxpayers and create opportunities for all, including small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses and workers in the construction industry, to compete to build America.”

Ben Brubeck, ABC’s vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs, praises the governors involved in the letter.

“Government-mandated project labor agreements are union-backed schemes that increase the cost of public works by up to 20 percent, stifle competition needed to build high-quality construction projects and ultimately shortchange hard-working taxpayers,” Brubeck says. “ABC applauds these 16 governors for fighting for inclusive, win-win policies that welcome all of America’s construction industry to compete to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure safely, on time and on budget. ABC will continue to fight for the 87 percent of construction workers who do not belong to a union and their opportunity to participate in federal and federally-assisted infrastructure projects in their own communities.”

PLA timeline

On Feb. 4, President Biden signed Executive Order 14063 requiring federal construction contracts greater than $35 million be subjected to PLAs. ABC strongly opposed the order, calling it anti-competitive for small businesses and costly for taxpayers.

On Feb. 15, ABC and 15 organizations representing tens of thousands of companies and millions of employees in the construction industry sent a letter to Biden outlining concerns with the order.

On Feb. 28, ABC and a coalition of 19 organizations from the construction industry and the business community sent a letter to Congress in support of the Fair & Open Competition Act, which would restrict government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally-assisted construction projects, according to ABC.

On March 7, Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) led a group of 42 Senate Republicans in sending a letter to Biden opposing Executive Order 14063, with the letter saying a fair and open bidding process for federal construction projects would guarantee the best value for hardworking taxpayers located in all geographies and regions across the U.S.

On March 8, Rep. Ted Budd (R-North Carolina) and 59 House members signed a letter to Biden saying PLA mandates and preferences will deny critical construction jobs to local workers and small businesses, urging the White House to refrain from attaching strings to infrastructure funding that creates discriminatory barriers to recovery.

On April 6, ABC sent a letter to the White House with more than 1,200 signatures from members and chapters voicing strong opposition to President Biden’s PLA order. The letter lays out concerns with other federal agency policies promoting PLAs on federally assisted construction projects, which would affect the allocation of funds under the $1.2 trillion IIJA that was signed into law last year, as well as other laws providing funds for state and local governments to improve its infrastructure.

Jack Kopanski

About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor for Pit & Quarry and Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or jkopanski@northcoastmedia.net.

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