COVID-19 Heightens Need for Gov. Northam to Veto Government Union Boss Monopoly Bargaining, Project Labor Agreement Bills
Labor Giveaways Pending with Governor Would Undermine Flexibility of
Coronavirus Response, Drive Up Costs in Face of Revenue Losses Caused By Crisis
VA (March 27, 2020) – National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix today
called on Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to veto legislation currently on his
desk, which could grant union officials union monopoly bargaining power over
government employees, and lift Virginia’s prohibition against requiring
so-called union-only “Project Labor Agreements” (PLAs) for taxpayer-funded
Mix observed: “While these proposals would be wrong for Virginia taxpayers and
workers anytime, they are especially harmful now since they would undermine
state and local efforts to mitigate the damage being wrought by the COVID-19
virus on the Commonwealth.”
House Bill 358/Senate Bill 152 would repeal Virginia’s ban on the
use of PLAs, while House Bill 582/Senate Bill 939 would allow union bosses to
impose monopoly bargaining on public sector employees, even workers opposed to
“The fact is,” said Mix, “both of these blatant union boss power
grabs will actually increase costs for Virginia taxpayers just as government
revenues are dropping because of the economic harm caused by COVID-19.”
Would Drive Up Costs for Taxpayers and Discriminate Against Non-Union Workers
HB 358/SB 152 would remove Virginia’s current ban on PLAs.
Under PLAs, only contractors who hand control of their employees over to union
bosses — or who are willing to work under rules set up by union officials —
would be able to work on public works projects.
“Contracts on state construction projects should be awarded on the
basis of merit and the value for taxpayers, not just on the basis of whether
the company’s employees pay dues to a union boss,” Mix added.
over 95% of Virginia construction workers who, for whatever reason, choose not
to support a union in their workplaces would be denied the opportunity to work
on the very projects their taxes finance,” observed Mix.
addition to discriminating against the vast majority of non-union workers and contractors,
studies show PLAs drive up the cost of construction projects by 10-20% at a
time when taxpayers can least afford it.
“As Virginia’s state and local governments face declining tax
revenues and the ever-increasing costs associated with Coronavirus, the last
thing taxpayers need is to be getting less bang for their buck just to
discriminate against non-union workers,” continued Mix.
Bargaining Infringes on Public Workers’ Rights, Drives Up Costs for Taxpayers
Mix also noted that HB 582/SB 939, if enacted, would cause significant harm to
both public sector workers and Virginia taxpayers.
“The simple fact is, this legislation will both infringe on public
employees’ rights and massively raise costs for taxpayers,” noted Mix.
“What you see in states with union monopoly bargaining is union officials and
their handpicked politicians saying, ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,
and to heck with taxpayers!’” said Mix.
pointed to a 2016 study by the Heritage Foundation which showed that a state
passing government sector bargaining increases the average annual tax burden by
$3,000 for a family of four.
And an analysis by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research found
that the state and local tax burden in the 17 states with the most heavily
unionized public sectors was 26% higher than in the 17 states where government
union bosses have the fewest workers corralled into monopoly union bargaining.
Additionally, the Maryland Department of Fiscal Analysis found that government
sector bargaining costs between $1.3 and $1.4 million per year in process costs
alone for just 12 “bargaining units” of state employees.
“Considering that this legislation could ultimately create hundreds of
bargaining units around the state, we’re talking about a truly massive cost to
taxpayers every year,” noted Mix.
“Without wasteful work rules and the ‘us versus them’ confrontational
mentality, Virginia government is better able to focus on real priorities and
respond to changing circumstances,” Mix continued.
Mix pointed out that Virginia’s current ban on government sector
bargaining, signed into law in 1993 by then-Governor Doug Wilder, gives it an
enormous advantage over other states, like neighboring Maryland.
“That, in addition to Virginia’s Right to Work Law, are major
reasons Virginia landed CNBC’s #1 State for Business ranking.”
In fact, Virginia would be granting union bosses monopoly
bargaining power even as other states are curtailing union monopoly
bargaining. Minnesota Democrat Governor Tim Walz recently issued an
executive order, suspending monopoly bargaining contract provisions for 50,000
state employees specifically to better address Coronavirus.
“As other states are recognizing, granting union bosses monopoly
bargaining power not only drives up the costs to taxpayers but undermines the
flexibility needed to deal with an unprecedented situation like dealing with
the Coronavirus,” observed Mix.
Monopoly Bargaining Undermines Representative Government
Mix also pointed out that granting monopoly bargaining privileges
to union officials will give them special access to the public purse that all
other organizations lack.
“In a representative system of government, it is wrong to allow special
interest groups like union officials to bind government in its most basic
function — the spending of public money and directing of public services,”
Mix pointed to no less a supporter of forced unionism than
Franklin Roosevelt, who wrote, “All Government employees should realize that
the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be
transplanted into the public service.”
Mix concluded, “For all these reasons, Gov. Northam must reject
these union boss power grabs.”
The National Right to Work Committee, established in 1955, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, single-purpose citizens’ organization dedicated to the principle that all Americans must have the right to join a union if they choose to, but none should ever be forced to affiliate with a union in order to get or keep a job. Its web address is NRTWC.org