(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – NBC and the Associated Builders and Contractors won at least a partial victory over Big Labor and Clark County in their suit to prevent the implementation of a union-favoring agreement. In its last September meeting the County Commission voted to proceed with the Phase 1 of the Detention Center North Tower Remodel project without the Project Labor Agreement a District Court Judge had struck down.
The County and the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council, a local group of AFL-CIO trade unions, are appealing the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. But rather than risk further delays on the project everyone agrees is urgent while they wait for a Supreme Court decision, the County voted to move forward without the PLA.
However, in order to preserve the appeal the County is going to proceed with Phases 2 and 3 using the PLA it had negotiated with local labor unions for Phase 1. Had there been no project on the site under a PLA the Supreme Court likely would have ruled the case moot and refused to hear the appeal.
This would have made it virtually impossible for the County to have built future projects under similar PLA’s because they would have violated the same provisions of the statute as those the District Court found objectionable. They also would have a difficult time getting unions to buy off on PLA’s without these terms. The reason unions advocate for PLA’s is because of these provisions that give them an unfair advantage.
In a special meeting earlier in September the Commission had voted to re-bid the project with each bidder submitting proposals to the County both with and without the PLA. They could then make an award based upon the Supreme Court’s decision. The latest vote overrules that decision and rules out the use of the PLA on Phase 1.
Bidding on the project began in February of this year. NBC and ABC filed their suit in April after the PLA was added.
The case has already been to the Nevada Supreme Court once. District Judge Jerry Wiese had originally allowed the PLA to stand but an en banc panel of three Supreme Court justices ordered him to re-hear the case and issue a new ruling under certain guidelines. Judge Wiese then ruled in August that the PLA violated Nevada law because some of its provisions gave unfair advantages to unions over non-union workers and contractors.
At the County, Commissioner Tom Collins, who objected to building the project without a PLA, was the only dissenter to the 4-1 vote. Commissioners Larry Brown, Susan Brager, Mary Beth Scow and Steve Sisolak voted to strip the PLA from Phase 1 and proceed with Phases 2 and 3 under the PLA.
The Supreme Court has agreed to expedite the case. Written briefs are due October 14, with oral arguments to follow soon after.
We are confident the Supreme Court will agree with Judge Wiese and prohibit the use of PLA’s containing these conditions that give unfair advantages to unions at the expense of non-union contractors and workers and the taxpayers of Nevada.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)