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By Daniel Hogan.
On December 18th, 2023, The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) published an Op-Ed titled: “ABC: President Biden’s Final Rule Forcing Corrupt Project Labor Agreements Will Face Legal Challenges.” We all know It is every organization’s right and responsibility to stand up for what they believe in, and we as an industry should encourage conversations in the public forum. However, it’s crucial to engage in these discussions with a full understanding of the issues at hand and on a level playing field of accuracy.
PLAs ensure worker welfare. That’s the bottom line. They include safety protocols and fair wage provisions. They create a safer and more equitable work environment. This is crucial in an industry often marred by precarious working conditions and underpayment.
ABC’s labeling the executive order as “corrupt” is not only inaccurate but a dangerous mischaracterization that will continue to erode the working class. PLAs are about ensuring high-quality work, fair wages, and decent working conditions, that’s it.
The term “corrupt” implies underhandedness or malfeasance, which just isn’t the case. PLAs are public, transparent, and elevate standards across the construction industry. These agreements ensure a skilled, trained, and more readily available labor force. This, in turn, leads to better quality constructions now and in the future. The country needs this forward-thinking approach, focusing on long-term value rather than just immediate costs.
The argument that PLAs limit non-unionized contractors’ opportunities is also false. These agreements set standards for worker conditions but do not exclude non-union contractors from bidding on projects. They level the playing field – creating an open market where all contractors, unionized or not, abide by the same labor standards.
While it is important to scrutinize and debate public policies like President Biden’s PLA mandate, it is just as important to do so with a clear understanding of what they actually are. PLAs are not about favoritism or corruption; they are about lifting industry standards, ensuring quality, and protecting workers. Dismissing them outright without considering these factors oversimplifies a complex issue and overlooks the potential benefits they bring to the construction industry and, ultimately, to the public.