A Step in the Right Direction

In early January, Governor Jim Gibbons signed an executive order repealing former Governor Bob Miller’s 1994 executive order mandating project labor agreements on Nevada public works construction projects.  Reported in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

According to representatives of Nevada’s Associated Builders and Contractors:

In the executive order, Gibbons stressed that the state has “an obligation to all Nevadans to ensure that tax dollars are used economically, efficiently and in a non-discriminatory manner,” noting that this goal is met “through a process that ensures open and fair competition for state construction projects.”

The executive order noted that “promoting open and fair competition on the bidding and awarding of state construction projects will: allow the state to utilize the best contractor for the job at hand; expand job opportunities, particularly for small and disadvantaged businesses; advance free competition as a way of doing business in Nevada; and reduce construction costs and therefore save taxpayer dollars.”

Gov. Gibbon’s new executive order is a step in the right direction.

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 – have voluntarily opted against unionization.

Because most contractors and employees choose to refrain from unionization when they have the free choice, Big Labor turned to politicians to remove that choice and impose union representation on employees from the top down. The method by which this is done is a project labor agreement, which is also frequently referred to as a “PLA.”

A project labor agreement requires all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, to subject themselves and their employees to unionization in order to work on a government-funded construction project. This is done by including a union collective bargaining agreement in a public construction project’s bid specifications. In order to receive a contract, a contractor must sign the agreement and subject its employees to union control.

Project labor agreements usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; use exclusive union hiring halls; force workers to pay dues to keep their jobs; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.

The use of a project labor agreement usually results in cost overruns and higher construction costs for taxpayers. Qualified non-union contractors who wish to make lower-cost bids, and employees who wish to work non-union, are locked out of the project. However, politicians and government officials continue to impose project labor agreements to reward the union officials that fund their political campaigns and keep them in power.