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Competition denied


April 11, 2014 Letters to the Editor

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Everyone agrees Butler County taxpayers deserve the best public construction at the best price.

Unfortunately, the Butler County Board of Commissioners’ recent decision to require contractors to sign a wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreement (PLA) as a condition of performing work on the Butler County Government Center Annex not only means it will be nearly impossible for qualified local contractors to compete fairly for this project, but also that the project will cost taxpayers more money.

Because of this, I strongly encourage the commissioners to reconsider their decision to require a PLA on this project.

PLAs discourage competition from nonunion contractors and their workers by requiring a construction project be awarded only to contractors and subcontractors that agree to recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on that job; use the union hall to obtain workers; obey the union’s restrictive apprenticeship and work rules; and contribute to union pension plans and other funds in which their nonunion employees will never benefit unless they join the union.

Requiring a PLA on the Government Center Annex project means the 76 percent of Pennsylvania’s construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union will not be able to compete on an equal basis for a project funded by their own tax dollars.

In addition, this discrimination against nonunion contractors reduces competition. Numerous studies show PLA mandates can increase construction costs by an average of nearly 20 percent.

In Butler County, most successful projects are built with union and nonunion craft professionals working together. The Lafayette Building renovation and the Moniteau Junior-Senior High School renovation and addition are two examples of projects built successfully without a PLA mandate. There are numerous other examples that show PLA mandates are unnecessary in our community.

Butler County residents deserve quality and accountability on taxpayer-funded construction. Please contact Commissioners Bill McCarrier, Dale Pinkerton and Jim Eckstein by phone at (724) 284-5100 to encourage them to remove the PLA requirement.

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