White House Executive Order, Project Labor Agreements

By February 7, 2009Labor Unions

On Friday, President Obama signed an executive order to encourage the use of project labor agreements in federal construction projects. The order was expeditiously posted to the White House website, “EXECUTIVE ORDER: USE OF PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS FOR FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.

The White House didn’t promote the signing, at all, but the executive order was expected. Labor leaders thought it would be included among the union-supported orders signed last Friday, revoking President Bush’s order (or orders) limiting PLAs. (See this February 17, 2001 order.)

It’s a big win for labor, a loss for the taxpayers and efficient construction of federally funded projects. Associated Builders and Contractors issued a news release denouncing the order (ABC’s verb). Excerpt:

“Today’s decision to repeal Executive Order 13202 opens the door to waste and discrimination in federal and federally funded construction contracts,” said ABC President and CEO Kirk Pickerel. “This action removes the safeguards that prohibited discrimination based upon union affiliation in the awarding of federal contracts.

“Construction contracts subject to union-only PLAs are designed to be awarded exclusively to unionized contractors and their all-union workforces,” said Pickerel. “Absent the economic benefits of competitive bidding, union-only PLAs are known to increase construction costs between 10 percent and 20 percent and discriminate against minorities, women and qualified construction workers who have traditionally been excluded from union membership.

“Union-only PLAs drive up costs for American taxpayers while unfairly discriminating against 84 percent of U.S. construction workers who choose not to join a labor union,” added Pickerel. “All taxpayers should have the opportunity to compete fairly on any project funded by the federal government.”

More from ABC:

Federal Construction Performed Without PLA as a Result of Executive Order 13202 Between 2001 and 2007, Executive Order 13202 ensured that at least $123.1 billion worth of federal construction projects was bid without discriminatory and wasteful union-only PLAs.  This saved American taxpayers 10 percent to 20 percent on each project and provided women, minorities and other qualified craft professionals the opportunity to work in their communities.

So what labor victory should we expect coming from the White House next Friday?

UPDATE (3 p.m.): Friday release achieves sparse news coverage. There’s a reference at the Boston Globe blog, “Obama sends labor another bouquet,”
and an AP brief. Good timing. Call it temporal transparency.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • ConstructionandLabor says:

    The media has picked up on the cronyism associated with the Obama Executive Order 13502.

    Here is a great piece by Lou Dobbs on PLAs and the Obama Order:

    Feb. 11 2009, Congressman John Sullivan (R-Okla.) introduced the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 983), a measure that that would prohibit federal agencies from requiring discriminatory and wasteful union-only project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects.

    Here is Congressman Sullivan Talking about his legislation and the PLA issue on Fox:

Leave a Reply