Showdown Looming over PLA

The McDonnell administration has warned the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) board that a recent decision to favor Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) in Phase 2 of the Rail-to-Dulles construction project could jeopardize $150 million in state funding for the project.

Governor Bob McDonnell intends to sign legislation that prohibits state financing for construction projects that discriminate on the basis of labor-union affiliation, wrote Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton in a letter co-signed by Sharon S. Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and Scott K. York, chairman of the Loudoun County board. Fairfax, Loudoun and the state, along with MWAA comprise the four funding partners behind the estimated $2.8 billion construction project.

“The MWAA Board’s decision to use a 10 percent incentive to encourage the use of a PLA for Phase II of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project is being viewed as a potential violation of the pending law,” the letter states. “It would be a tragic loss and a detriment to the project if the Commonwealth withheld its $150 million contribution, as well as its ability to cooperate with MWAA, in construction of Phase II.”

A tragic loss — that’s putting it lightly. The $150 million contribution was critical to a fragile Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) worked out late last year under the auspices of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to bring Phase II costs under control and reduce the burden on Dulles Toll Road users, who would pay for any cost overruns through higher tolls. The prospect of sky-high tolls created a brush fire of opposition in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, home to many toll road users. If the state yanked its $150 million, the MOA would fall apart, and so could the entire financing for Phase 2.

The letter signatories stressed that they have no objection to voluntary PLAs. “In fact, such agreements are being used in Phase I of the Silver Line as well as other transportation projects in Northern Virginia such as the I 495 Express Lanes.”

The legislation that McDonnell plans to sign would create a level playing field between union and non-union companies bidding for the Phase II contract. MWAA policy would tilt the playing field heavily in favor of companies committed to PLA agreements with labor unions, discouraging open-shop companies from participating in the bidding. MWAA critics contend that shrinking the pool of competitive bids could result push the cost of the project hundreds of millions of dollars higher.


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  1. A great, bipartisan letter. I haven’t heard anyone rail (ha, ha) against a voluntary PLA or champion barring union firms and workers from bidding on Phase II. But the MWAA board’s actions are outrageous. Too many board members see a pot of gold that can be funneled to special friends, in this case, labor unions. This is an example of why I am a fiscal conservative. Other people’s money is too tempting. If Dulles Rail is so critical to the Airport’s success, perhaps the MWAA board will beat a retreat.

  2. Richard Avatar

    The PLA issue is a minor one and being exploited by politicians who yell “union” to get points with their right-wing supporters. My suggestion to the MWA Board – add a question that gets to the benefits of a PLA – such as guarantees to avoid disruption – and give the 10% credit to those who meet the criteria by submitting to the PLA standards OR by other means. If those who object to the PLA standards can provide the same benefits by other means, fine. If they can’t, they get downgraded.

    1. Sharon Bulova is a well-known right winger. No one is objecting to a voluntary PLA, but most people, including Democrats who are interested in their constituents, don’t want a mandatory one. This is pure overeach by some on the MWAA board. A mandatory PLA will only drive up costs.

    2. I vote that Richard has it nailed…all political.

      The MWAA has made Wolf and McDonnell look silly by ignoring/delaying new MWAA appointments which was a good attempt to give the same two some cover. Old proverb say: don’t bite the hand that subsidizes your crazy scam.

      Now the anti PLA pill gives Bob the cover to say he is for the Rail project but VA jobs come first…and you don’t get our check unless you play by our rules. It is a tough outcome to predict but whatever happens it will, as Richard says be driven by political not practical priorities.

      The loss of $150 million is nothing to this porkfest considering they intend to steal billion$ through the implicit toll tax.

      But if the state pulls out, counties will look very bad and would likely follow. The MWAA cannot stand against the blow back of ticking off the general public to the degree as would happen if things go that direction and tolls go higher. the MWAA is already stuck trying to sell bonds that are valued with consideration of a ridiculus toll revenue payback based on heavily fudged ridership, etc.

      Just sayin.

      Thanks Timmy

      PS this has no value as a tranportation project as per 2002 USDOT study. NEVER proven feasible as a project. Cuccinelli nailed it “A real estate deal”
      Tax says go to but come back here when you’re done.

    3. I vote that Richard has it nailed…all political.

      The MWAA has made Wolf and McDonnell look silly by ignoring/delaying new MWAA appointments which was a good attempt to give the same two some cover. Old proverb say: don’t bite the hand that subsidizes your crazy scam.

      Now the anti PLA pill gives Bob the cover to say he is for the Rail project but VA jobs come first…and you don’t get our check unless you play by our rules. It is a tough outcome to predict but whatever happens it will, as Richard says be driven by political not practical priorities.

      The loss of $150 million is nothing to this porkfest considering they intend to steal billion$ through the implicit toll tax.

      But if the state pulls out, counties will look very bad and would likely follow. The MWAA cannot stand against the blow back of ticking off the general public to the degree as would happen if things go that direction and tolls go higher. the MWAA is already stuck trying to sell bonds that are valued with consideration of a ridiculus toll revenue payback based on heavily fudged ridership, etc.

      Just sayin.

      Thanks Timmy

      PS this has no value as a tranportation project as per 2002 USDOT study. NEVER proven feasible as a project. Cuccinelli nailed it “A real estate deal”
      Tax says go to but come back here when you’re done.

  3. Richard Avatar

    TMT – I think we are in agreement on the substance. A mandatory PLA just opens up the whole thing to an unhealthy dose of political rhetoric. Require the bidders to comply with certain standards that would be met with a PLA, but not by requiring compliance with a PLA. I am perhaps overly sensitive to the rhetoric. Richard

  4. Ricardo, There’s an easy way to meet the standard you call for. Simply state that the project must be completed by such-and-such date and then specify the penalty — X thousand dollars per day — if the contractor fails to deliver. That should create ample incentive for any contractor, whether union or non-union, to take every measure to ensure that his workforce doesn’t walk out on him.

  5. Richard, if performance and timing is important, the various contracts should reflect it with performance guarantees, penalties, and, even, incentives if appropriate. And if union contractors win contracts or subcontracts, more power to them. If Company A has a contract or subcontract, and union workers get a bigger share of the pie than non-union workers get from Company B that also has a contract or subcontract, I don’t care.
    But what I see at MWAA is certain board members trying to get favorable treatment for union contractors and workers, with an idea of getting price increases that can be passed along to DTR users, which, in turn, pushes more drivers off the DTR on to local streets.
    A mandatory PLA is just more crony capitalism. The MWAA board should be ashamed of itself.

  6. larryg Avatar

    the project is a large thing with many moving “contractor” parts.

    One contractor who fails to perform can push 5 others into penalty phases.

    how do you deal with that?

  7. Larry, that’s what contracts are for. A good contract should set forth expected contingencies and spell out what happens when one ocurrs. It’s allocation of risk between or among the parties.

  8. larryg Avatar

    TMT – but they do not work for small companies who can essentially seriously disrupt a big project and just dissolve if the penalties are more than they can pay.

    I gave an example of contractors that were supposed to have moved utilities so the road contractor was able to continue without delay. The utilities people did not get the job done on time… since they are a public utility they could not be held accountable. Meanwhile the road contractor was facing such severe penalties that he would have lost money on the work.

    He chose to go ahead with his work and cut the lines which then put huge costs on commercial businesses ….

    this is why they want PLAs on bigger projects. It not just about unions. It’s about maintaining an on-time, on-budget project.

    if the project managers REQUIRED a performance bond that would be liquidated for cause.. how many of the smaller contractors could afford to purchase that performance bond?

    the MWAA PLA actually forbids strikes and work stoppages even from the unions.

    I keep saying.. we are focusing on only ONE THING here… unions…and we don’t seem to care about the other important aspects of the PLAs.

    it’s basically a culture war against unions and collateral damage is okay.

    and I have zero sympathy for MWAA.. they are a opaque organization with virtually no accountability – not only for PLAs and unions but for crony-capitalism…. yet where is all the sound and fury ? just on unions, that’s all.

  9. LarryG said, “But [PLAs] do not work for small companies who can essentially seriously disrupt a big project and just dissolve if the penalties are more than they can pay.”

    Guess what — Dulles Transit Partner’s PLA for Phase 1 does not apply to sub-contractors — small companies — and neither will the Phase 2 contract which is modeled upon it. So, that dog won’t hunt.

  10. larryg Avatar

    then it’s a reason not to hire them except for aspects that are not vulnerable to disruption.

    ” trying to get favorable treatment for union contractors and workers”

    yes.. and corporate favoritism also.. right?

    it drives me nuts.. when ya’ll say union favoritism and you totally ignore the other side of the coin.

  11. larryg Avatar

    someone said Sharon Bulova was a conservative? Is she pro/anti PLA? How about MWAA and Dulles Rail?

    How about tolls on the DTR?

    what happens if Loudoun County pulls out?

    Bonus Question of the Day:

    Of those who oppose the PLA – how many are ardent supports of the Rail Project?

    Extra Credit : of those who oppose the PLA, how many support paying for the project with tolls from the DTR?

  12. Sharon Bulova is fiscally conservative. Not as fiscally conservative as I think she should be, but, nonetheless, she has held tight reins on county spending and the tax bill since she became Chairman. I like Bulova and think she’s done a pretty good job running the BoS. I think she has drank some of the rail kool-aid, but so have many others. Rail will provide transportation benefits, but still may not be cost-justified. The lack of a third track and Potomac River tunnel capacity will diminish the value of Rail. Rail is all about density at Tysons. Never forget that and things will make sense.
    The biggest problem I’ve seen with utility relocation is Verizon and not the contractors. Verizon is consistently weeks and even months late moving utilities.
    If someone is going to breach a contract by late performance that is not excused by weather or other act of God, what difference does a PLA make? Budget-wise, the biggest cost problem with Phase I has been change orders that Bechtel makes a mint on.
    MWAA could have stayed away from the PLA issue and left it to the winning bidder for Phase II. If a PLA makes sense on this project, the parties would agree to one. This is more crony capitalism and access to other people’s money.
    I’d like to see voters have a question as whether MWAA board members should be retained. Yes or no. But keep the same appointment process. Like judges in many states.

  13. larryg Avatar

    TMT – did you say “appointed” but removable by voters?

    re: PLA = literally – project labor agreement.

    to agree to no strikes and no walk-offs.

    a company does not have to be unionized to walk off a job unless they’ve signed a PLA but what prevents a signatory from walking off the job anyhow?

    do they have to post a bond?

    in general – the bigger operations are better able to be financially responsible and to command better ability to marshal resources.

    I’m still not understanding the exact issue here – beyond the political anti-union sentiment.

    it appears to me that a PLA is about a lot more than just unions.

    not that the backlash against unions is not warranted… but I have to tell you.. where is the equivalent backlash to Bechtel?

    looks to me that the folks who want to squash the unions are indifferent towards the Bechtels …. no?

  14. HardHatMommy Avatar

    Larry, I wish I could sit down with you and explain this. Politicians and others have hijacked this issue, but that doesn’t make it any less of a real issue for real people … there is no good reason in 2012 to discriminate against nonunion firms. I don’t understand how those who are against the PLA could be said to be union-bashing.

    What if the PLA was about hiring men, not women. And what if politicians and women stood up and said wait, that’s not fair. There should be no PLA; both men and women should be able to compete for the job. Would you jump to conclusions and assume that those against the PLA were men-haters? No. That would be ridiculous. They are just asking for the same opportunity to bid the work. They aren’t saying that they only want women on the job. Just that they want both on the job. I can’t understand how being against the PLA makes me somehow against unions. That’s not right.

    PLAs are NOT necessary Larry. They are a scam. There is nothing of value in a PLA that you don’t find in a good old fashion construction contract.

    Try this, do some research on the NGA job. It is a $1.7 billion BRAC job that was as close to perfect as you get. No PLA. But a hell of a construction contract and an amazing contractor. LOTS of great small businesses working under the prime too. You see, good construction contracts have airtight language for schedule, risk, contingency, SAFETY, payment, bonding and the list goes on and on. A PLA is about WHERE the labor comes from (i.e. employers or union hall).

    Remember that on Phase 1, Bechtel decided to employ a PLA for the roughly 40% of the work they are “self-performing”. That’s fine. They are a huge company that decided it was best for them to get labor from a union hall. Sometimes when you have a lot of union labor, voluntary PLAs pop up to keep different unions from fighting and to prevent strikes.

    Anyways, the other 60% of the job is performed by subcontractors which range in size, including very small contractors. They didn’t have to sign that PLA. If they go out of business, the prime contractor absorbs that risk, not MWAA.

    Next time I visit my parents I am going to invite you to meet me for lunch somewhere near Fburg. Within an hour I bet I can get you to understand my perspective. That or I need to write a comprehensive book on PLAs and send you a copy.

  15. larryg Avatar

    HHM I respect your view and remain willing to be convinced. the point I made was that PLAs have been around a long time and NOW there are people who are opposed to them AND they are the ones who have thrust the PLAs into the political realm by asking the GOv and GA to take action.

    PLAs SOUND LIKE a way for large projects to require a project agreement of all potential contractors union and non-union to certify qualifications of their labor and to agree to staff positions with qualified people and to agree to not to walk off the project – even the unions.

    I’m sure I could learn more but I point out to you the prevailing anti-union sentiment that now occupies much of the conservative world in the US whether it be auto, teachers or construction.

    It used to be ok to have unions for cars, teachers and construction workers but something has changed for some people and it’s no longer okay.

    I’m trying to understand why it’s no longer ok.

    PLAs are OLD critters – they are over 70 years old – right? Perhaps they ARE anachronistic!

  16. HardHatMommy Avatar

    PLAs have NOT been around in Virginia a long time. I know of a handful. The BRAC work, every major museum, universities, the Pentagon renovation, courthouses, I could go on and on. They are very rare. Virginia was built WITHOUT PLAs. Yes, they have been around in other parts of the country. From what I understand, they used to be a tool to keep the different unions from fighting and slowing a project. Today, they are being used to favor organized labor. That isn’t American and it isn’t fair.

    PLAs are not a way for large projects to agree to qualifications, terms, etc. That is what the construction contract is for. How do you think all of these amazing projects – from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Institute of Peace, the Marine Corps Museum, the Fed Ex Stadium, Virginia Tech campus – get built? They didn’t need PLAs. They covered everything that needed to be covered in a construction contract. And both union and nonunion could freely work together building the projects. That’s how we’ve done it for a LONG time in Virginia …

    If a PLA is needed to keep unions from fighting one another and striking, it is a voluntary one that is applied to the unions and that’s that. Nobody is complaining about voluntary PLAs.

    I’m seeing a prevailing anti-open shop sentiment in this discussion. Are you saying because there are people who want to reform unions out there that I should sit quietly, feel sorry for all unions on the planet, and watch a quasi-government body discriminate against Virginians who don’t want to be run through a union hall? I still don’t see where the connection is. Some people don’t like unions. Some people don’t like nonunion firms. Who cares about what anyone thinks? That isn’t the argument. People aren’t going to agree and that is okay. Some choose unions and some choose nonunion. In Virginia 97.4% in 2011 were NOT in a union. Nationwide that number is roughly 85%. In other industries, almost everyone is in the union. My point is that in construction, there are choices and the majority today are choosing, to the tune of 85% nationwide, not to be in a union. Our business model is evolving and we are learning so much about how collaboration and integrated project delivery can really make for better buildings. That means we need to take those people in the “field” and engage them at the table with the architects and engineers early and often. We draw the knowledge and experience up from the field and collaborate with those coordinating the job. We use building information modelling to find clashes on a computer screen before the problem ever has the chance to happen in the field. And we tie it all together and bring everyone into a one team environment. That is really hard to do when labor is exclusively funneled in through a union hall.

    Let’s get back to the real issue right here, right now in Virginia. Unions will get to work on the project with or without the PLA. They aren’t the ones being discriminated against. The NONunion people just want a chance to work alongside the union people. How is that anti-union? How is removing a PLA anti-union when all it does is give everyone a fair shot? Again, if you told my husband and I that our little boys could go to college but our little girl could not and we yelled and screamed that that was wrong and not the American way, would you say were were anti-boy? No, you would say that we were for both boys and girls being able to go to college. Just because I am anti-PLA does not make me anti-union.

    Larry, you keep making big statements about unions and bundling them all together. I don’t know about other unions. I do know about construction unions. They are NOT a nice place for women, minorities, and anyone who wants to rise up from the labor pool into a leadership role. They make people feel like a number. And they can be as close to mafia as you can get without Tony Soprano. They also can be an amazing fraternity particularly for guys who really like feeling part of a group and who don’t have ambitions to move up any ladders. Larry, until you personally experience what a union hall is like, I don’t think you’re qualified to come to the defense of the poor little construction unions.

    Even though they don’t have a lot of people in their ranks, unions are very politically and financially powerful. Remember that most construction firms are not Bechtel. They are small companies. They are not political animals as they are typically run by people who rose up from the ranks in the industry. There aren’t a lot of MBAs in our business. We’re fine with that, but it also means that the nonunion firms don’t have the political organization that the organized labor has. Architects, engineers, construction firms are typically absorbed in their own industry and sometimes forget about the business side, let alone the political side of the industry. This is an industry, apart from a few giant firms, that is run by the boys and girls who used to spend time in their rooms building LEGO cities. They aren’t really into the noise surrounding them. They live and breathe designing, engineering and constructing. They are focused like laser beams on their industry, not politics.

    PLAs are NEW in Virginia. And they are being used to discriminate. It isn’t a trivial issue. It is a real issue affecting real businesses and real people and fighting this should be a bipartisan effort.

  17. larryg Avatar

    HHM – do you disagree with this description:

    in this description, it says:

    ” According to the terms of the order, non-union contractors may compete for contracts subject to PLAs, but they must agree to the various terms and conditions contained in each PLA in order to win a federal contract and build a project.”

    do you disagree with this?

    here’s what I’m trying to do.

    I’m trying to reconcile what you say with what I read in other places.

    I would accept from you other references as long as they are not obviously biased sites.

  18. HardHatMommy Avatar

    The terms and conditions could be just about anything. literally. So non-union might be able to have 10% of their own workforce. Or they might be able to use 40% if they paid into this or that fund.

    Let me see if I can figure out how to share the PDF of the PLA that Denny floated to MWAA. I can’t attach it here and it is really long.

    Sometimes, PLAs are just for the unions to sign (remember Phase 1 PLA exempted nonunion from having to sign – it was just for the unions to sign).
    Wikipedia gives a good try at a definition of a complex, moving target kind of topic, but it is inaccurate. You don’t have to sign a PLA to win a federal project. There are plenty of projects that were fed jobs in the Obama era that do not have PLAs. The President has an executive order that encourages PLAs. It doesn’t require them and the military and GSA don’t put PLAs on everything. There are some local governments that require them. I think California has a lot of PLA local requirements. It’s different across the country.

    Sometimes GSA does not require a PLA and sometimes they do and sometimes they ask for both kinds of bids. They chose the nonPLA bid on the Lafayette job and then issued a $3.3 Million change order to make it a PLA job. That was a strange one. A few good contractors who had won the job as subs had to walk away from that work before the job started because of that change order.

    Here is one section of the PLA that Denny passed around at the MWAA meeting. I copy and pasted. Again, this is not the actual PLA for Phase 2 because the details haven’t been published. This is from another PLA from another job. He was just providing an example. But I think it helps for you to see how the language reads …

    Section 4.5—Union Security
    In states where applicable, all employees who are members
    of the Union on the effective date of this Agreement shall, as a
    condition of employment, maintain their membership in the
    Union. All employees who are not members of the Union, and all
    employees who are hired thereafter, shall become and remain
    members of the Union as a condition of employment not later than
    the eighth (8th) day following the beginning of their employment,
    or the effective date of this Agreement, whichever is the later.
    Failure of any employee to comply with the provisions of this
    section shall, upon the written request of the Union, result in the
    termination of such employee. The Employer shall not be required
    to terminate any employee for non-membership in the Union, (a) if
    it has reasonable grounds for believing that such membership was
    not available to the employee on the same terms and conditions
    generally applicable to other members, or (b) if it has reasonable
    grounds for believing that membership was denied or terminated
    for reasons other than failure of the employee to tender the
    periodic dues and initiation fees uniformly required as a condition
    of acquiring or retaining membership. Neither the Union nor the
    employee shall hold the Employer liable for complying with the
    Union’s request in this matter.

  19. larryg Avatar

    but HHM… you admit that a PLA itself does not mandate the use of unions but may well have requirements.

    A LOT of small businesses cannot compete or qualify for bigger contracts because they simply don’t have the resources to compete.

    that’s NOT the fault of the PLA or any contract that requires things that are deemed a benefit and necessary for the bigger projects.

    I’m not sure what you are really after but any company and the govt are free to try to structure requirements that they deem useful and needed to them.

    Many govt projects actually have a set-aside for small businesses but you cannot tell the govt that they cannot have a PLA because it disadvantages smaller contractors.

    Look at the title of what you supplied. It’s NOT about the work requirements.. it’s ALL ABOUT unions when you’re telling it that it is not.

    look at the words.. HHM.. it’s union this and union that…..

    Again, I’m not looking for anti-union thoughts and literature here.

    I’m looking for the specifics of WHY any PLA is wrong if PLAs do not require unions and accept all kinds of contract labor.

    it’s always been true that larger contracting organizations..just by virtue of their size and financial and workforce muscle are going to be tougher competitors than smaller companies. That’s NOT a PLA problem.

  20. HardHatMommy Avatar

    It is common for a PLA to mandate the use of unions. But it is not a given. The devil is in the details. And being forced to go through the union hall when you are a nonunion employee is not desirable and it provides no added benefit to the client.
    In construction, small businesses CAN compete and qualify because they work as subcontractors or they joint venture with the big guys who have the bonding for instance. This isn’t about big versus small business. It is about union and nonunion.
    Let’s go back to the NGA project. That is $1.7 Billion project that was ahead of schedule and under budget with no PLA. Just like most jobs in Virginia are built – without a PLA. Both union and nonunion worked on the job. The construction contract included everything that was necessary. Think about that. Why are we acting like PLAs bring some magical extra benefit. PLAs are about where you get your workers. Are they union? Are some nonunion allowed if they are run through the union hall? What benefit would a PLA have brought to the NGA job? Or the thousands upon thousands of other jobs in this state built without a PLA?
    Yes, private developers and owners and the government are absolutely free to try to structure requirements that they deem useful. Those small businesses that you think can’t compete actually have the master/journeyman/apprentice ratios. They have all the right training and certifications. That is how that 97.4% are building Virginia so successfully. That is how that 85% are building America. They can comply with the requirements. They are really good at what they do. And they are just as credentialed as their union cohorts.
    The problem is not the requirements; the problem is a PLA that either forces union labor or allows for some nonunion labor but forces them to go through the union hall to the back of the line.
    PLAs disadvantage workers. 97.4% of our workforce here in Virginia is not in a union. If they wanted to be in a union, it is quite easy to do so. Most construction is performed by small companies. Bechtel is self-performing 40% of Phase 1. The other 60% is being performed by SMALL and mid-size companies who are subcontractors. They are highly trained and highly regulated. Most are nonunion and therefor exempt from the PLA.
    Again, this isn’t about small or big companies. There are huge companies with nonunion workforce and huge ones like Bechtel who go both ways depending on what works best in that moment.
    What I supplied to you Larry, what I copied and pasted, is what MWAA is looking at. It is what MWAA board member Denny Martire distributed. Yes. It is all about the unions and that is my problem with it. If the PLA looks like this, that 97.4% is totally out of luck. Yes, Denny’s PLA is ALL ABOUT unions getting the work over nonunion. Absolutely. Replace union with any other group. Let’s say Catholics. What if you had to be part of the Catholic church in order to work on the job. Would you react to that?
    My argument is about wanting both union and nonunion to work on jobs as we have done for the history of Virginia’s commercial and industrial construction.
    THIS ISN’T ANTI-UNION LITERATURE LARRY. THIS IS THE ACTUAL PLA THAT WAS FLOATED. Do you not see how this hurts nonunion firms and workers?
    Off topic a little –I sense you might not know about the prime /sub setup. If you build a daycare, you have a prime contractor. He absorbs a lot of risk. He is usually a bigger company. He might self-perform part of the work. but more often he doesn’t perform any of it. He manages dozens of subcontractors called specialty contractors. He is responsible for their work and if they fail, he must fix the problem under contract. His subs do site, concrete, steel, masonry, drywall, carpentry, roofing, interiors, etc. The big work is performed the same way. Construction is very specialized. Don’t confuse it with homebuilding where you find jacks of all trades. That doesn’t play out in the big leagues. That might help you understand why, whether there is a PLA or not, there are a lot of small and mid-size businesses building America’s infrastructure.

  21. larryg Avatar

    ” the problem is a PLA that either forces union labor or allows for some nonunion labor but forces them to go through the union hall to the back of the line.”

    is this true? can you show me some evidence?

    re: union literature… yes.. what is troubling is that ONLY THIS was extracted and I’m sure it’s a very small part of the overall PLA.

    I’m still trying to understand – the specific anti-union provisions.

    the fact that this is not a dead obvious issue but instead appears to be nuanced and based on interpretation folks who are either predisposed against (or in favor) of unions …still bothers me.

    If the PLA is mandating the use of union labor.. then no contest, I’m against the PLA.

    but I’m not yet convinced that this is that cut and dried.

  22. HardHatMommy Avatar

    Larry, where is the anti-union provisions in anything? The only anti-anything is anti-open shop. I think I have to give up. If the section I pasted didn’t get your blood boiling – if i didn’t demonstrate the clear discrimination… well I just don’t know what to say to you. There are all kinds of crazy things in that particular PLA. There are also things that go into the actual construction contract but are repeated in the PLA. The section I pasted in for you to read is the exact reason I am against the PLA. The rest of it could be sunshine and roses and it wouldn’t matter to me.

    Again, this is just what MWAA reviewed and talked about. I don’t want anyone to think this is what they decided on. Denny Martire did say that a portion of workers, they don’t know what percentage, might be allowed to work if they are not in the union, but they will have to be sent through the union hall. Again, MWAA has not, that I know of, come to terms with the details.

    The bottom line is that there is no need for any of this. Like nearly every other project in our state, let’s build this together, free from a PLA with both union and nonunion labor. If the winning contractor wants a PLA, then fine. that’s their choice. You can hire who you want to hire. But MWAA shouldn’t restrict the pool of available workers or give one group an advantage over another.

    Again Larry, you need only look to Phase 1 to see that non-union works just fine without a PLA. What is the benefit of a PLA? The one on Phase 1 only applied to unions and was voluntary. So that doesn’t count. What is the benefit of a PLA from the get go on the prime contractor? What does it do that a construction contract doesn’t do? How does it benefit the project? It doesn’t. It is a scam. If you cant’ see that by reading the section I pulled out, then I can’t think of any other way to make you see my truth. Peace out.

  23. larryg Avatar

    HHM.. I respect your opinion.. I just cannot find a basis to agree with it.

    We’re in a time when unions are under attack and the PLA issues “feels” like the other attacks.

    If someone says that the PLA is requiring union only participation and they can show how, then I’m with you.

    If someone is saying that PLAs themselves are wrong and favor unions, then again, show me how that happens.

    I am much more concerned with how MWAA does business in general because of it’s opaque operation and their ability to operate with very little accountability. I think that is far more important than the PLA issue.

    If the anti-PLA people were ALSO coming on strong on the transparency and accountability issue, it would make them look a lot less than a one issue group.

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