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New study points to effectiveness of Project Labor Agreements

04.30.09

May 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

New study points to effectiveness of Project Labor Agreements

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, April 19th- A new study commissioned by the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University affirms the fact that Project Labor Agreement (PLA’s) do not discriminate against employers and workers, do not limit the pool of bidders, and do not raise construction costs.

The study, “Project Labor Agreeemtns in New York State: In Public Interest,” was authored by Fred B. Kotler, the Associate Director of the Construction Industry Program at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and reviewed the background and legal standards for the appropriate use of PLAs on public works projects in New York City and State. It also tests, and rejects, the validity of the claims made by opponesnts of PLAs, focusing on the studies conducted in recent years by the Beacon Hill Institute.

In its conclusions, the study states, in part, “A key point is that there is no evidence to support claims that project labor agreements either limit the pool of bidders or drive up actual construction cost. Such claims by opponents are based on inadequate data and faulty methodology.

“Project Labor Agreement’s in New York City and State and elsewhere have proven very successful at saving costs while respecting fair labor standards,” Mr. Kotler stated.

The unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), an association of 13 national and international unions representing approximately 2.5 million construction workers in the United States, have suggested for years signing a PLA with the building trades council would not increase the costs of projects. The Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley in Allentown is affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Department. There are 20 local unions affiliated with the labor federation.

Mark H. Ayers, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department in Washington, DC, agrees with the study findings and stated, “As we have known for some time, and which this study re-affirms, is that Project Labor Agreements are a valuable tool for ensuring a quality returm on construction investments.”

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