Labor Mandates Live On In Funding Bill
Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) successfully sponsored an amendment that struck down language in a bill preventing government agencies from requiring union rules and involvement on all federal construction projects above $25 million.
An attempt to walk back government mandates for project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects was defeated in a recent funding bill.
An amendment to prohibit federal agencies from requiring PLAs was added by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to a military appropriations bill in the House of Representatives that reached the floor May 31.
PLAs mandate a collective bargaining agreement for every government construction project exceeding $25 million. The projects must then run according to union regulations, including paying workers union rates and contributing to union pension plans. Union bosses also control the work even if non-union companies win the contract.
The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a trade group that advocates for merit-based contracts and free enterprise, has lobbied strongly against continuing federal PLA mandates, on the grounds that they stifle competition, increase project prices and unfairly favor union shops. Labor officials responded with a 165-page report titled “An Analysis of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)” that claims the trade group should not be recognized as a “voice” for the construction industry.
Opponents on both sides of the aisle called the Flake language anti-union, and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) submitted a new amendment that struck the anti-PLA section from the larger bill. After more than an hour of debate, the Grimm amendment passed on a 218-198 vote that included 34 Republicans and all but one of the Democrats present. The larger bill, which included funding for veteran’s programs and military construction, passed the House on a 407-12 vote.