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ABC-Led Coalition Announces Six-Figure Advocacy Campaign

Associated Builders & Contractors logo
Aimed at educating Americans and members of the U.S. Senate about government-mandated project labor agreements.

Build America Local, a coalition of construction industry and business organizations led by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), announced a six-figure issue advocacy campaign aimed at educating Americans and members of the U.S. Senate about controversial government-mandated project labor agreements that reduce competition and increase costs for the construction of taxpayer-funded affordable housing, clean energy and infrastructure projects across America.

The campaign urges senators to oppose government-mandated PLA schemes as bipartisan infrastructure negotiations continue between a select group of Senate Republicans and Democrats and the Biden administration, according to ABC. 

“As Congress works to craft infrastructure legislation, it is critical for the U.S. Senate to oppose government-mandated PLAs so all qualified contractors and construction workers have the ability to fairly compete and build America’s infrastructure,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC VP of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Ensuring fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects will ultimately result in savings to taxpayers, more opportunities for all qualified small businesses, minorities and women in the construction industry, and the construction of more quality infrastructure projects so America can Build Back Better and faster.” 

When mandated by the federal government, PLAs exacerbate the U.S. construction industry’s skilled labor shortage, effectively prevent the 87.3% of the U.S. construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union from fairly competing for contracts and drive up the cost of critical infrastructure projects by 12% to 20%, resulting in fewer construction projects and local jobs, ABC said. 

The Build America Local website houses a variety of educational and social media materials and also gives constituents access to a grassroots tool to tell their elected leaders to support local workers and businesses by opposing government-mandated PLAs in federal infrastructure legislation.

The Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan infrastructure outline encourages Congress to tie federal investment of taxpayer dollars in infrastructure to costly PLA requirements. Other Biden administration policies encourage state and local governments to mandate PLAs on infrastructure projects receiving federal dollars. It has been reported that the Biden administration is also working on an executive order encouraging the use of PLAs on federal contracts for construction services.

Controversial terms in typical government-mandated PLAs discourage competition from qualified union and nonunion contractors and result in a rigged bidding process that forces contractors to:

  • Use union hiring halls to obtain most or all workers instead of their existing workforce;
  • Obtain apprentices exclusively from union apprenticeship programs.
  • Follow inefficient union work rules;
  • Pay into union benefit and multi-employer pension plans that any limited number of nonunion employees permitted on the project will be unlikely to access unless they join a union and vest in these plans;
  • Require their existing workforce to accept union representation, pay union dues and/or join a union as a condition of employment on a PLA jobsite and receiving benefits, resulting in an estimated 20% hit to the paychecks of local craft professionals.
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