House Narrowly Okays Union-Only PLAs at expense of military construction

Although fewer than 12% of the 229 Republicans present and voting on the anti-Right to Work, pro-PLA LaTourette Amendment sided with Big Labor, that was enough for union lobbyists to grab a 204-203 victory.

Handful of Big Labor-Appeasing Republicans Make the Difference

(Source: July 2011 NRTWC Newsletter)

Back in February 2009, one of the first actions President Barack Obama took after settling in at the White House was to issue Executive Order 13502, which promotes union-only “project labor agreements” (PLAs) on federally funded public works. In April 2010, the Obama Administration issued a “final rule” implementing the order.

“E.O.13502 now pressures federal agencies to acquiesce to PLAs on all large public works,” noted Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.

“In practice, it is designed to force nonunion companies wishing to participate in public works using $25 million or more in federal funds to impose union monopoly bargaining on their employees and hire new workers through discriminatory union hiring halls.

“Under union-only PLAs, independent workers who already have their own retirement funds are nevertheless forced to contribute to Big Labor-manipulated pension funds.

“Rather than compromise the freedom of their employees and the efficiency of their operations, most independent construction firms simply refuse to submit bids on PLA projects.”

Results of 2010 Elections Raised Hopes of Pro-Right to Work Citizens

Efforts to roll back E.O.13502 legislatively began almost as soon as this edict was issued. And the shellacking voters in state after state gave to Big Labor politicians in the 2010 elections spurred hope among National Right to Work Committee members and other PLA opponents that they were gaining momentum.

However, since the beginning of this year, Right to Work attempts to pass appropriations amendments in the now GOP-controlled U.S. House prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds to enforce E.O.13502 have repeatedly been thwarted by a handful of Big Labor-appeasing GOP congressmen.

The most recent setback for independent hardhats and construction firms occurred last month, as the House considered H.R.2055, the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations (MilCon) Bill for the Fiscal Year 2012.

In May, pro-Right to Work members of the House Appropriations Committee had attached to H.R.2055 an amendment prohibiting imposition of union-only PLAs on military, VA, and other construction funded through this measure.

But on June 13 a clique of 27 GOP congressmen, led by habitual forced-unionism apologist Steven LaTourette (Ohio), joined with 177 Big Labor Democrats to strip the pro-Right to Work provision from H.R.2055.

Although fewer than 12% of the 229 Republicans present and voting on the anti-Right to Work, pro-PLA LaTourette Amendment sided with Big Labor, that was enough for union lobbyists to grab a 204-203 victory.

House Speaker Urged to Hold Big Labor Appeasers’ Feet to the Fire

Mr. Mourad pointed out that ringleader Steven LaTourette and two of the other GOP House members voting for his union-label amendment hail from Ohio, the home state of Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

“As a self-styled foe of PLAs and wasteful government spending in general, Speaker Boehner should be doing everything possible to get appropriations legislation defunding PLAs approved by his chamber,” said Mr. Mourad.

“Public opposition to union-only PLAs is already intense, and growing more so. Ultimately, President Obama and [U.S. Senate Democratic] Majority Leader Harry Reid [Nev.] may decide they don’t want to expend any more of their political capital defending these special-interest schemes.

“But Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid will feel relatively little pressure to end their love affair with PLAs as long as the GOP-controlled House remains incapable of passing anti-PLA legislation!

“I strongly urge the speaker to advise all members of his House caucus, including especially his fellow Ohioans, that there will be significant intra-party repercussions for them if they continue providing cover for Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and other union-label Democrats on the PLA issue.”

Mr. Mourad added that National Right to Work members in Ohio and around the country may want to call Speaker Boehner’s office in Washington, D.C., at 202-225-0600 to reinforce the message that a “hands off” approach toward pro-forced unionism GOP congressmen is unacceptable.