This Should Be an Easy Call

Abolish union-only project labor agreements

Legislation to prohibit the use of union-only Project Labor Agreements on public construction or renovation work has been introduced in both the state House and Senate. This is a hopeful sign.

These PLAs tend to be used to force bidders to sign agreements with local unions before starting work, and they have the effect of discouraging non-union contractors from bidding, limiting competition and boosting the cost for taxpayers. Just yesterday bids on renovation work at Kalamazoo Community College — a project with a PLA attached — came in 4 percent over budget. Costs for repairs to the roof of one building nearly doubled.

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Project Labor Agreements provide little protection for wages. All they do is steer government construction jobs to unionized firms. Even Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero saw big problems with this practice. At a time where difficult budgeting choices are being made all throughout the state, it would seem that opening up construction to all contractors, not just union shops, should be a pretty easy call to make.