Obama Administration Hits Brakes on Project Labor Agreement

The Obama administration this week called off bidding on what would have been a union-friendly federal construction project bidding process, in response to a contractor complaint over its inclusion of a project labor agreement (PLA), which would disadvantage nonunion contractors, reports The Washington Times. The bids were for a $35 million contract ot build a Job Corps center in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Under a PLA, an open shop contractor could be required to employ workers from union hiring halls, acquire apprentices from union apprentice programs, and require employees to pay union dues. The Labor Department acknowledged that the complaing over the PLA was the reason it called off bidding.

This is as surprising as it is welcome. From promoting card-check legislation to imposing duties on Chinese tires to stalling on new international trade agreements, the Obama administration has consistently promoted the interests of organized labor, which strongly supports Obama, hoping that he can implement policy changes to help unions stem their decades-long private sector membership decline. Whatever the reason, this should be encouraging to advocates of open competition and flexible labor markets.

For more on project labor agreements see here.