The governor of New Jersey gets it when it comes to the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s). Why is it so difficult for the governor of New York?
As a refresher, a PLA is a Project Labor Agreement. It is a mandate. It basically determines the terms and conditions of a public construction project before it begins. This allows unions to bargain for wages and benefits before anyone is even hired. The result? Typically, public projects will now cost more money. But there is another reason they are bad for New York. PLA’s serve as a disincentive for merit shop, or non-union, contractors from bidding on the work.
The reality is that PLA’s are a union giveaway. What are merit shop contractors supposed to tell their own employees? Sorry, I can’t bid on that job as it has a PLA attached to it. Or, even worse, I won this new job but I can’t put you to work on it because I have to hire union members? That doesn’t sound like a solution to me. Keep in mind, these are taxpayer funded projects.
There is an interesting statistic that also points to the problem of PLA’s. Did you know that 70% of construction workers in New York State are not members of a union? That’s a majority. So why is the government working so hard to guarantee the employment of the smallest number of workers? This is a problem. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution. Let’s talk about the Public Construction Savings Act.
The Public Construction Savings Act would allow contractors an option. They can choose to bid on public projects with or without a PLA. It doesn’t say you’re not allowed to include a PLA, it just says it is no longer required. The bill would also require that contracts be awarded to the actual lowest bid. This would save the state and federal government as well as local governments a lot of money. But the reality is that it saves us, the TAXPAYERS, money. How much money could be saved you ask? Well, a Beacon Hill Institute study found that PLA’s add an estimated $27 per square foot to the bid cost of construction. So yes, it would be a lot of money.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christies has realized all of this. He knows that New Jersey only remains free of the last place spot in business friendliness because New York holds that spot for them. It’s time New York realized all of this too. It’s time we saw some leadership like Christie is showing in New Jersey. It’s time for our Governor to push for passage of the Public Construction Savings Act. And to get it passed before session ends in June.