Bit of background on the current situation: On Beacon Hill, the Patrick administration has imposed so-called Project Labor Agreements on three large construction projects that require that anyone working on them must be members of a labor union and firms must abide by union work rules. Non-union shops say those requirements effectively exclude them from bidding. Several studies show that projects done under PLAs or with only a small number of bidders cost more than projects that have more bidders. Unions, however, say the PLAs insure higher-quality work and offer a guarantee against strikes or other labor strife.
I believe that PLAs inexcusably discriminate against nonunion contractors and workers while increasing construction costs that inevitably get passed on to taxpayers. Under the National Labor Relations Act, construction contractors and employees have the right to choose to unionize or not to unionize. The vast majority of contractors and their employees - more than 80 percent nationwide - have voluntarily opted against unionization. Because most contractors and employees choose to refrain from unionization when they have the free choice, Big Labor has turned to politicians like Gov. Patrick and Sen. Donnelly to remove that choice and impose union representation on employees from the top down. And that is exactly what a project labor agreement, or PLA is.
Experts like David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI), a public policy research center at Suffolk University in Boston, say the PLAs have one purpose: to discourage nonunion contractors from bidding on big construction projects- and I agree with this statement. With almost 85 percent of construction workers here in Massachusetts nonunion, there is a clear bias towards awarding contracts to the union minority. BHI studies have shown that taxpayers here in Massachusetts have suffered as a result of this union bias, and the PLAs actually raised project costs 12-20%.
This country was founded on the premise that competition in business is a good thing- it leads to lower prices, sustained quality, and choice of products and services. I believe that PLAs are in the best interests of Big Labor, and not the taxpayers of Massachusetts.