Owners, Contractors & Construction Users

For owners, contractors and construction users alike, Project Labor Agreements offer unmatched benefits.  No other business plan can bring owners, contractors, subcontractors, multiple labor organizations and community leaders together to align each party’s goals and expectations so that a project can be completed on time and on budget. Users have harnessed the power and flexibility of PLAs to provide the stable, uniform labor management foundation on which to build methodical planning and scheduling on a project.  With a PLA, wage rates, benefits, work rules, safety, scheduling, dispute-resolution, and communication strategies are all agreed to before the bid process, fostering cooperation and positive communication among all contractors and subs at a project.   

Project Labor Agreements reduce uncertainty inherent in large-scale construction projects by establishing all terms and expectations up front and creating a framework for cooperation among all groups working on the project.  By adopting a labor-management model that fosters jobsite efficiencies and ensuring an uninterrupted supply of qualified workers, PLAs keep a project on schedule, avoiding costly delays.   This also allows parties to more accurately predict labor costs and production timetables, which means more accurate bidding and lower overall costs.   PLAs also offer direct cost savings through streamlined safety procedures,  avoiding renegotiations,  setting work schedules to keep costs low,  and using expedited dispute resolution procedures.   

PLA users also highlight the economic benefits of having immediate access to a highly trained, highly productive workforce. Workers who have gone through the joint union-contractor apprenticeship programs have top-notch training in safety and the crafts, leading to higher-quality work and fewer job-site accidents, which saves money in the long run.   With a PLA in place, contractors and subcontractors must compete on the basis of who can best train, equip and manage a construction crew to create the highest-quality product, instead of who can find the cheapest workforce.  Contractors and owners also note that PLAs increase the accuracy of bids by weeding out low-quality and inconsistent subcontractors.

Opponents of Project Labor Agreements have argued that PLAs increase project costs, but studies by UCLA, Cornell and other leading academics have concluded that there is simply no evidence to back up this conclusion .  In fact, most PLA users speak to the economic benefits of using PLAs that contractors and owners have recognized for the past three-quarters of the century. PLAs have since been used regularly by both private and public entities since the great dam projects of the New Deal.  Today, large, companies such as Toyota, Disney, and Bechtel choose to use PLAs for their private construction projects, recognizing that emphasizing quality workmanship is a profitable and socially responsible business plan.

    For example, Bechtel Construction has utilized project labor agreements on over 100 large construction jobs nationwide in the last twenty-five years, 85 percent of which have been in the private sector.   Toyota has built every one of its North American manufacturing facilities under a Project Labor Agreement, and report that their per foot construction costs are one-third less than those of the competitors who eschew the use of Project Labor Agreements.