Measure Address the Problems of Union-Only Project Labor Agreements
JEFFERSON CITY— The Missouri Senate this week advanced the Fairness in Public Construction Act that creates an open and fair environment when it comes to building schools, libraries, and other public buildings. Senate Bill 182 addresses the unfair practice of union-only Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) imposed by political subdivisions.
Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said this will allow non-union shops to compete fairly for public projects.
“Project Labor Agreements eliminate competition,” said Richard. “PLAs are not equitable to all contractors and are a detriment to the free market. This is another tool we can use to put Missouri on the list that entices businesses and individuals to move to the state and expand.”
Union-only PLAs are requirements imposed by political subdivisions that public construction projects be performed only by union contractors or by contractors who agree to labor union demands. In theory, a non-union contractor could bid on a PLA project, but then that contractor is essentially required to become a union shop for that project. Senate Bill 182 removes the 50 percent state funding threshold for political subdivisions and labor agreements and prohibits bidders from entering into those types of agreements. The measure also ensures all contractors will get a chance to bid on the project.
Bill sponsor, Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis said Project Labor Agreements show patterns of unfair public policy and bad governance.
“Now is the time to end the discriminatory, wasteful, inefficient practice of union-only PLAs,” said Onder. “By encouraging all qualified bidders, regardless of labor affiliation, to bid on taxpayer-funded projects we are sending a clear message that these special interest handouts to union bosses are not welcome in Missouri.”
Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said reforming the law is also about saving money.
“On average, PLAs raise the cost of construction by 18 percent,” said Kehoe. “Right now, nearly eight out of 10 workers are prohibited from building schools, libraries, or city halls when a PLA is imposed. Taxpayers deserve the best product for the best cost.”
The measure now moves to the House for consideration. To learn more about this bill or to track its progress, visit www.senate.mo.gov.