ABC: Discriminatory PLAs Prominent in Philadelphia Area

Fri July 29, 2011 - Northeast Edition

In an opinion piece, The Wall Street Journal sheds light on discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) prevalent in Philadelphia. It’s no secret the city is in financial distress — more than 3,400 jobs were eliminated in the School District of Philadelphia and property taxes are set to rise nearly four percent. Yet the School District of Philadelphia and other taxpayer-funded city projects, like the recent Convention Center expansion, continue to rely on costly labor union-sponsored PLAs.

Publicly funded PLAs are contracts that effectively restrict merit shop contractors and their employees — comprising 87 percent of the construction workforce — from bidding and working on construction projects. PLAs often increase costs, resulting in tax payers picking up the tab for an extra 12 to 18 percent.

At the state level, Gov. Corbett recently removed the PLA on the Graterford Prison project. After an evaluation, the original project was completely overhauled to ensure it met the present and future needs of the Department of Corrections and the financial responsibility due to taxpayers. Similarly, a State College prison project was rebid with and without a PLA; the project was ultimately awarded without a PLA.

Associated Builders and Contractors Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter (ABC) encourages Philadelphia city leaders to follow Gov. Corbett’s lead and lift a financial burden from strapped taxpayers by removing costly, discriminatory project labor agreements. Claims from PLA proponents that PLAs guarantee worker safety on the job site and protect labor peace are unfounded — open shop contractors provide quality construction safely, on-time and on-budget. “Labor peace” is a thinly veiled threat to create havoc if a union-only PLA is not enacted, according to the ABC.

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