Three former Virginia governors and a former U.S. Senator have urged the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to “put ideology, partisan politics, pride and parochial interests aside” and reverse its decision to favor Project Labor Agreements (PLA) when evaluating construction bids for Phase 2 of the Rail-to-Dulles project.
“The Project Labor Agreement (PLA), the key point of contention, is a political and philosophical issue upon which reasonable people can disagree. To resolve that issue, we recommend that the MWAA board adopt the same prescription for Phase 2 as it prescribed for Phase 1 and leave it to the selected prime contractor to choose the best method to meet MWAA’s requirements for Phase 2,” stated the letter signed by Republicans John W. Warner and Linwood Holton and Democrats Chuck Robb and Gerald L. Baliles.
Current MWAA board policy is to favor a PLA, but not require one, by giving additional points in the bid evaluation to prime contractors whose proposals include a PLA. Under a PLA, the contractor hires labor through a union shop. The governors are urging the board to revert to the policy that prevailed during Phase 1 construction in which the winning bidder, Dulles Transit Partners, voluntarily signed a PLA but sub-contractors were not required to.
Critics of the MWAA’s pro-PLA policy say that it might discourage open shop contractors from bidding on the estimated $2.7 billion project, thus increasing the likelihood of a higher bid.
The copy of the May 14 letter that was passed along to me was addressed to Todd A. Stottlemyer, a Virginia representative to the MWAA board recently appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell. I do not know if the letter was distributed to other board members.
“As Republicans and Democrats, we come together again to ask that you and your fellow decision makers on Dulles Rail continue to work with [U.S. Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood — and with each other — to resolve your differences and move this vital project smartly forward in a cost effective manner, and without putting an unfair burden upon the Dulles Toll Road users.”
My only question… Why were the signatures of other former governors — Sen. Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, George Allen, Jim Gilmore and Doug Wilder — not affixed to the letter?