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Puzzling PLA protest


May 8, 2014 Letters to the Editor

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Regarding the letter by the executive committee of the Butler County Republican Committee and its chairman, Edward Natali.

How much the writer knows about the construction industry, I don’t know, but having spent some 40 years working in construction gives me some firsthand knowledge about it and even a little about project labor agreements.

A project labor agreement (PLA) is simply a tool that can be used on a construction project to help in its orderly completion. There are more than a dozen different crafts involved in a PLA, each of them negotiating separate contracts with their respective employers. A PLA moves to standardize work hours, holidays, scheduling and other variable issues and gives the owners and their representatives — the construction manager and general

contractor — the means to modify the scheduling during the course of the project for any unforeseen issue that may arise.

The writer’s assertion that somehow a PLA will raise the cost of construction by 20 percent is unfounded and absurd. Numerous studies have shown actual labor costs on a given construction project constitute between 20 percent and 30 percent of the total construction costs. To save that 20 percent, one only must have to have the necessary construction supplies delivered to the site and then watch them magically construct themselves.

In this case, construction bids came in $2 million below budget on the courthouse annex —with the PLA — and the last project completed in Butler County prior to my retirement and using a PLA was the new Butler Health System Tower. That project, as noted in The Butler Eagle, was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

My only guess is that the writer is opposed to Butler County residents and taxpayers working on a Butler County project. Maybe he’s opposed to the mandatory drug testing provision and is unaware some studies have shown that drug use is more prevalent in the construction industry. Or is he opposed to the “Helmets to Hardhats” provision which seeks to open positions for our returning military veterans? Or opposed to opportunities for apprenticeships for some of this county’s residents, training that teaches a skilled trade, some which include a college degree, all at no cost.

Many construction workers like me — independents, Democrats and Republicans alike — are confused why the leadership of the Butler County Republican Party would turn a blind eye to us and instead choose to act as a de facto puppet for powers outside our county.

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