‘America’s Most Pro-Union Boss President Ever’

Barack Obama tried, with limited success, to twist the arms of federal agencies to get them to foist union-only PLAs on federal contractors and subcontractors. Joe Biden’s plan is to order bureaucrats to impose PLAs. (Credit: Bill Bunker/ Wikimedia Commons)

Biden PLA Edict Stacks the Deck Against Independent Hardhats

With poll after poll showing that Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of his Administration a little more than a year after he took office, Big Labor President Joe Biden apparently thinks the best thing for him to do in response is double down on his already ample record of support for compulsory unionism.

On February 2, the President took what is arguably his most radical step yet with his issuing of Executive Order 14063.

It effectively mandates that, every year, an estimated $262 billion in construction contracts funded partially or fully by federal taxpayers be offered to union-only workers and firms.

‘Every Single Project . . . Is Going to Be Union Jobs’

E.O.14063 would accomplish this anti-employee, anti-taxpayer objective by foisting so-called “project labor agreements” (PLAs) on contractors and subcontractors as a condition of submitting bids on federal public works costing $35 million or more.

“Regardless of how his performance as America’s chief executive is judged in other ways,” said National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix, “Joe Biden seems destined to go down in history as America’s most pro-union boss President ever.

“Again and again, he publicly crows about how he is exercising the extraordinary powers of his office to deny job opportunities, whenever possible, to the 94% of American private-sector workers, and the 87% of construction-sector workers, who have opted not to join a union.

“Mr. Biden was especially blunt during his public signing of E.O.14063 before an audience of ebullient construction union bosses and their militant followers in Upper Marlboro, Md.

“Referring to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that he had signed in November 2021 after it had passed through Congress with the support of many lawmakers hailing from Right to Work states as well as from forced-unionism states, Mr. Biden declared:

“‘Every single project that we’re talking about [that] is paid for with federal dollars . . . is going to be union jobs.’”

Workers Will Be Forced To Contribute to Big Labor-Manipulated Funds

Once it goes into effect, which could happen as soon as this autumn, E.O.14063 will force non-union companies wishing to participate in public works of any substantial size to impose union monopoly bargaining on their employees and hire new workers through union boss-controlled hiring halls.

“To even submit a bid for a taxpayer-funded PLA contract,” explained Mr. Mix, “a union-free firm will have to agree to use the union hiring hall to obtain workers at the expense of current qualified employees. Apprentices will have to be obtained from Big Labor-operated apprenticeship programs.

“Instead of following their normal guidelines for working safely and speedily, hardhats will have to submit to inefficient union work rules. Moreover, independent employees hired for federal public works will be forced to contribute to union boss-controlled ‘multi-employer’ pension plans [MEPPs] that are in many cases grossly underfunded.

“Even if the MEPP happens to be relatively sound, independent employees who contribute to it will never receive any benefits except in the extremely unlikely event they work long enough on unionized contracts to meet vesting requirements.

“And in states without Right to Work laws in effect, PLAs even force union non-members to join or pay union fees as a condition of employment!”

Employers’ Compensation Costs Soar, But Money Doesn’t Go to Workers

Union-only PLAs line the pockets of construction union honchos like Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers International Union of North America. But union-free workers and taxpayers get ripped off. (Credit: Sinn Fein/ Wikimedia Commons)

Just last fall, Dr. John McGowan, a retired professor of accounting at Saint Louis University, published a study that calculates the total reduction in compensation independent hardhats suffer when they work on construction projects subject to union-only PLAs.

Dr. McGowan estimated that, on average, 19% of such employees’ total compensation package goes into pension funds from which they will typically never receive any retirement benefit due to vesting requirements.

Another 6% of the employees’ compensation can be expected to be funneled into Big Labor bosses’ forced-dues coffers, unless the employees are fortunate enough to live in a Right to Work state and exercise their freedom not to bankroll the union.

Once you include premiums for union official-controlled health insurance plans, a completely unnecessary expense for the vast majority of union-free hardhats who already have health insurance through their employer, the total estimated compensation loss is 34%.

“Government-mandated PLAs are very costly,” said Mr. Mix. “Nonpartisan researchers such as the Massachusetts-based Beacon Hill Institute have found they raise overall construction costs by 12% to 20%.

“They raise union-free employers’ compensation costs by roughly 35%. But all that extra money doesn’t go to workers. It goes to union bosses.”

Joe Biden is not the first U.S. President to attempt to skirt the federal mandate to pursue “economy and efficiency,” above any other objectives, in making procurement decisions in order to pay off construction union officials.

Back in 2009, Then-President Obama Sought To ‘Encourage’ PLAs

Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both tried to tilt the playing field in favor of discriminatory,  anti-competition PLAs.

But the “memorandum” issued by Mr. Clinton in 1997 and the executive order issued by Mr. Obama in 2009 aimed to “encourage,” rather than flat-out force, federal agencies to mandate PLAs on large-scale construction projects.

“During the nearly 12 years Mr. Obama’s E.O.13502 was in effect before Mr. Biden replaced it with E.O.14063, the vast majority of federal public works of all sizes continued to be open to union-free bidders, largely because of strong Right to Work resistance to PLA schemes,” said Mr. Mix.

“A second reason PLAs did not become the norm is that even many union-friendly federal bureaucrats recognize that PLAs are a wasteful boondoggle.

“As a veteran of the Obama Administration, Joe Biden must know all about that. That’s why, instead of asking bureaucrats to impose PLAs, he’s ordering them to do it!”

While Big Labor is ecstatic about E.O.14063, legal experts harbor serious doubts about whether or not the President actually has the authority to impose PLAs systematically on taxpayer-funded construction.

Right to Work Will Fight Back in Court And in Congress

As the Biden White House attempts to implement his PLA mandate, the Committee’s sister organization, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, will be offering free legal assistance to workers across the country who are harmed by E.O.14063 and willing to challenge it in court.

And the Committee is already working with other citizen groups to build Capitol Hill support for the Fair and Open Competition Act (S.403/H.R.1284), legislation that would overturn E.O.14063 and ban union-only PLAs on all federally funded construction projects.

“This could be a long battle,” acknowledged Mr. Mix. 

“But I am cautiously optimistic that Joe Biden’s PLA power grab can ultimately be thwarted.”

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

To support our cause and help end forced unionism, go here to donate.

NRTW Home » News » ‘America’s Most Pro-Union Boss President Ever’