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Anti-PLA legislation was introduced in the previous General Assembly

01.18.11

JANUARY 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Anti-PLA legislation was introduced in the previous General Assembly

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 6th- In September 2009 legislation was proposed that would have prohibit the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) on public projects in Pennsylvania.

The legislation was introduced by Republican House of Representative John Bear (97th Legislative District). Mr. Bear’s legislative district includes Lancaster County. However, the legislation died because not enough legislators supported the legislation.

In 2009 the Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives while the Republican held the majority in the Senate. The Pennsylvania Governor was also a Democrat.

Mr. Bear told the newspaper at the time he also introduced the legislation in 2007 but it failed because it failed to gain enough co-signers. In 2009, the total amount of co-signers more than doubled from 2007 but it still failed.

The bill called the “Open Contracting Act” would have prohibit the use of PLA’s by public bodies for construction of schools, prisons, roads, and other public buildings in Pennsylvania.

A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed by a builder and local craft unions under which a defined construction project is agreed to be completed by workers from local union halls, in return for the union’s guarantee of no strikes, a steady labor supply, and general labor peace. Under a PLA, a nonunion contractor could still be hired for a project, however if they are selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

With the Republicans gaining control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Governors Mansion, anti-union legislation will likely be introduced in the upcoming session of the General Assembly, including a fourth try at banning the use of PLA’s on public construction projects.

Anti-union legislators, like Mr. Bear, have stated in the past that PLA’s are often used by Democratic party elected officials to repay labor unions for their support during political campaigns. “PLA’s are used as political favors,” Mr. Bear was quoted as saying in the October 2009 edition of the newspaper.

The legislation’s biggest supporter is the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC) construction group. The ABC is made-up of nonunion contractors and often lobbies for anti-union legislation in Harrisburg and was behind a anti-PLA rally held in the state capitol rotunda in February 2010.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, which is a labor federation representing unions who members are employed within the construction industry, believes corporate greed is behind any anti-PLA legislation.

“The fact of the matter is that many non-union contractors here in Pennsylvania and all over the country bid on projects with PLA’s and win those bids. They then go on to complete those projects using local crafts people and still earn a reasonable profit. They do this because PLA’s work. It is clear that the ABC and their legislative allies are not really interested in creating jobs for Pennsylvania skilled crafts people. They are more interested in finding ways to line their pockets with our tax dollars and with little protection of our community standards as possible,” stated Mr. Sirianni.

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