The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) will score an expected amendment to today’s vote in the House of Representatives on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012 (H.R. 2055). The score will be incorporated into CEI’s Congressional Labor Scorecard, presented in full on CEI’s Labor Policy Website, WorkplaceChoice.org.
As it is currently written, Section 415 of H.R. 2055 will promote efficiency and competition in federal construction contracting by preventing agencies from requiring contractors to sign mandatory Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). The bill seeks to counter President Obama’s misguided Executive Order 13502, which encourages agencies to require PLAs for large-scale construction projects, even though PLAs drive up project costs and favor unionized contractors.
Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) is expected to offer an amendment to the bill to strike Section 415, which bars mandatory PLAs. If passed, the LaTourette amendment will skew bidding for federal construction contracts in favor of unionized contractors—thus driving up the costs of federal construction projects at taxpayer expense.
“Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) rig the contracting process for public construction projects to ensure that union firms employing union employees are more likely to win federal contracts,” CEI Labor Policy Counsel Vincent Vernuccio explained. “PLAs impose burdensome requirements on non-union contractors. Under a PLA, a non-union contractor could be required to employ most or all of their employees from union hiring halls, acquire apprentices from union-only apprentice programs and require employees pay union dues.
“Non-union contractors employ 87 percent of the U.S. construction workforce and have the skills and qualifications to build both large and small federal construction contracts, yet they are being discouraged from competing because of PLA mandates and preferences. The government contracting process should be open to free and fair competition and not be tilted toward special interests.”