Virginia Contractors Unhappy with MWAA on PLAs for Dulles Rail Phase 2

Virginia Associated Builders and Contractors sends out press release, letter urging MWAA to change stance on project labor agreement

The Associated Builders and Contractors is concerned by the resolution passed earlier this month by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority that mandates a project labor agreement for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

In a press release from ABC, the organization says the PLA from Phase 1 was voluntary and very different than the mandated PLA from Phase 2. The organization is concerned that there was no opportunity for public comment on the matter.

“After reviewing the National Heavy & Highway Coalition’s Heavy and Highway Construction Project Agreement recently circulated to MWAA board members, we are concerned that this Phase 2 anti-competitive PLA will harm taxpayers, increase costs for Dulles Toll Road users, and discourage Virginia’s qualified construction firms and their skilled employees from bidding on the job,” said the release.

ABC’s top concerns are that 96 percent of Virginia’s private construction workforce does not belong to a union, meaning the work will go to out of state companies, and companies could be limited in the number of employees they can use, among others.

Additionally, companies with participants of the federal and state merit shop apprenticeship programs won’t be allowed to work on the job because they are not union programs, ABC said. Merit shop companies will be required to pay into a union benefits trust, even though the companies and employees may never see the benefits of doing so.

ABC said signing the PLA could prevent companies from qualifying for construction bonds needed to build future projects for MWAA or other customers. The organization also said the specific PLA passed requires contractors to pay a Construction Industry Labor Management Trust, which is $375 for every $1 million awarded to a contractor with a cap of $50,000. The payments are to be sent to MWAA board member Dennis Martire’s employer, the Laborers International Union of North America.

ABC said the provisions in the PLA that refer to safety, scheduling, wage and befits, drug testing and other similar issues are already standard practice in most construction contracts, and MWAA can require all of those provisions and federal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage and benefit rates without having the PLA in place.

According to ABC, studies of public works projects indicate that PLAs increase the cost of construction between 12 percent and 18 percent compared to non-PLA projects.

john worker April 26, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Because union workers are citizens and those legally allowed to work in the United States that get paid a living wage as opposed to the unscrupulous rat contractors that use a workforce comprised of mostly unskilled undocumented workers.
Ted Brogan April 27, 2011 at 01:41 AM
John Worker- Nice standard union talking points (that have no factual basis in reality) against quality merit shop contractors that dominate the DC metro area market share because they deliver a superior project. If you checked your facts, you would know that Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project are subject to Davis-Bacon prevailing wage and benefit rates. So there are no issues about "living wages" as the government is determining the wages for this project and they are typically the union wage and benefit rate. It is yet another way unions are getting a handout from the government. Second, Phase 1 of the project was built by merit shop contractors and their work has been celebrated as quality and successful on this project and hundreds of other projects in the DC metro area. Phase 2's PLA mandate is forcing contractors to be bound by the onerous terms and conditions in the PLA that amount to nothing more than an anti-competitive scheme to make sure that out-of-state union workers build Phase 2 and enrich union bosses. MWAA board member Dennis Martire is responsible for fooling MWAA board members on this one. He and his employer stand to gain tens of millions of dollars from this scheme on the backs of Virginia taxpayers and Dulles Toll Road users. The real rats are the unions for taking everyone to the clearners. Finally, 96% of the highly-skilled, Virginia construction workforce stands to build this project paid for by their tax dollars, if not for the PLA.


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