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.