HARRISBURG – The House State Government Committee today advanced legislation, authored by State Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland), which would end government-mandated contracts known as project labor agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded construction projects.
PLAs discriminate against local construction workers by unfairly excluding non-union members from working on public construction jobs.
“This is about fairness and openness in the contracting process. State contracts should not discriminate based on lack of union affiliation, or be awarded as part of some political payback for big labor,” Bloom said.
Known as the Public Works Open Contracting Act, Bloom’s House Bill 1849
would encourage open competition among potential contractors by prohibiting “union only” construction contracts, in which a government entity requires the successful bidder or any subcontractor to exclusively use workers who are members of a labor union.
“This legislation will ensure taxpayers get the best work at the best price, and will stop the troubling practice of banning qualified local workers from taxpayer-funded projects just because they aren’t part of some government-favored union,” said Bloom.
At a recent public hearing held on House Bill 1849, Westmoreland Electric President Keith Impink noted that most open-shop (non-union) construction companies won’t bid on PLA projects, so they are effectively shut out of the bidding process.
“I will not bid on a project with a PLA on it because it would mean I would have to lay off my loyal, hard-working employees and hire employees out of a union hall, which I have no idea how productive they will be and have no control over,” Impink said. “This discrimination not only hurts the business community, but more importantly, needlessly affects the livelihood of my hard-working employees and their families.”
PLAs are comprehensive, pre-hire agreements which, under existing law, include labor terms and conditions for construction projects, often incorporating terms from collective bargaining agreements of unions to be involved in the project.
House Bill 1849 now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
Representative Stephen Bloom
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abbey Haslam