(Lori Piotrowski) – Project Labor Agreement. This little-known tool assures construction unions that their members are employed, their coffers are full, and right-to-work shops are put out of business.
From the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, more than 6,600,000 persons were employed in construction. About 15% of these persons were represented by unions. (Keep that statistic in mind.) One year later, 500,000 persons had lost their job in construction, and less than 14% of them were union members.
So, we see that 86% of the construction labor workforce is NON-union.
These figures are important because a Project Labor Agreement, or PLA, dictates how a new construction project will be put to bid, who will work on the project, and what the project will cost.
A PLA-governed project imposes these conditions on a non-union contractor:
- All companies may bid on a project; however, non-union companies pay their workers’ benefits both to the workers’ plan with the company but also to the union trust fund. Workers NEVER see the benefits that have been paid to the union unless they become vested with the union. Becoming vested can take years.
- Apprentices must be hired from the union hall’s apprenticeship programs. Apprentices from non-union programs are not allowed to work on the project.
- Workers on the project must be hired out of the union hall. Even if the company’s workers are not union members, they must appear at the hall in order to get the work order.
- Non-union workers must join the union to work on the project, or at the least, pay union dues/fees for the duration of the project.
PLAs are prevalent in most government-related construction, and Clark County is no exception. Some of the current projects include:
- McCarran Airport ( previous and renewed for additional 5 years)
- FAA Control Tower (bid without PLA but pressure on FAA by Senate and House of Representatives induced a PLA implementation later)
- Southern Nevada Water Association’s Lake Mead project
- Las Vegas City Hall (PLA understanding)
- Clark County Detention Center (pending approval by the Clark County Commisson)
- Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority
- Clark County Government Center
Northern Nevada hasn’t escaped PLAs either. Two recent projects that were under Project Labor Agreements were the Reno’s Aces Ballpark and The Legends at Sparks Marina retail project.
A minority wields the power to determine who will work, when, and where. A mere 14% lays down the terms that the super-majority must follow.
Great work if you can get it.