PLA News

Useful links to recent and relevant news, reports, testimonials and studies about the positive impact of Project Labor Agreements:

This Month in PLAs: Video Report for February 2012



San Diego PSA study finds cost savings, quality construction


This study, commissioned by the board of the San Diego Unified School District, looked at a Project Stabilization agreement (also known as a PSA or a PLA) between SDUSD and the San Diego Building Trades Council. The agreement covered the modernization of 161 schools, and the construction or refurbishment of 12 others.

Among the study's findings:

-There was no increase in the cost of the project to the district.

-The quality of construction was improved. 

Skilled Trades Provide Pathways to Jobs in San Diego through Project Labor Agreement


More evidence out today that Project Labor Agreements provide workforce goals that increase access to construction jobs for veterans, local residents, disadvantaged workers and small buisnesses.  The San Deigo Unified School District confirms these findings in their school modernization project called "Proposition S" done by the skilled trades in union construction.


Sound Transit PLA Report - Seattle


Three area PLAs were reviewed in depth and compared to Sound Transit's PLA to determine differences, similarities and unique provisions.  Other PLAs referenced by interview and/or survey respondents were analyzed in relation to issues raised and request for inclusion in this report.


PLAs Save Money - Create Jobs


Numerous studies indicate that PLAs ensure construction projects are completed on time and on budget. An August 2010 Michigan State University and University of Rhode Island report confirmed substantial improvements in efficiency and safety in projects supported by PLAs. Beyond savings for taxpayers, a recent Cornell University report confirmed that PLAs are increasingly using Community Workforce Agreements to create jobs for the communities that need them most: women, minorities, veterans and local residents.

Trades Provide Fertile Ground for Building Solid Careers


New Hampshire is experiencing a serious shortage of skilled labor.  This story is an op-ed about the need for skilled trades in this country.  "...and I predict we will see resurgence in the value placed upon technical career training and the jobs they lead to. I have met numerous business leaders who are struggling to fill well-paid positions in manufacturing, machining, precision welding, HVAC and more. To keep business in the state, we need to produce the talent businesses require."


Rochester Mayor Richards Submits PLA for Midtown Site


Working with City Council President Lovely A. Warren, Mayor Thomas S. Richards, has submitted legislation to City Council that would establish a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) to represent the commitment by contractors and unions to control costs and increase women and minority representation among construction firms working on the Midtown Rochester Rising development project. In addition, the PLA provides for the creation of a training program that will generate qualified men and women for jobs related to project.


$287M Community College PLA Signed


The Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building Trades Council have negotiated and signed a PLA extension for $287,000,000 in modernization work at the San Jose Evergreen Community College District.  

Dr. Rita Cepeda, the new Chancellor of San Jose Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD) understood the value of working with the Building Trades and witnessed the value that skilled Union construction hands and their contractors brought to projects being done under their existing bond measure (covered by a Building Trades PLA), so did her Board who voted 7-0 to extend their previous PLA to cover their new bond measure. Board President Ron Lind summed up the sentiment of the Board when he said "When we signed the PLA for our first bond measure we were told by the ABC that contractors wouldn't bid and that costs would increase...however our experience was just the opposite. Approving a PLA for this bond is not only the right decision, but an easy one!"


Bond Construction Study in CA Finds PLAs Jobs Are Not More Expensive by Comparison


In this memorandum, the San Francisco United School District's Bond Program (Prop A 2003 and 2006) finds that cost of construction between the two year's bonds (2003 non-pla and 2006 pla) are roughly the same ---- meaning PLA construction isn't more expensive than non-PLA construction.


Trades Member Speaks out at Prince George's County (MD) City Council Meeting in Favor of PLAs


During a Nov. 15 Prince George's County Council meeting, Larry Greenhill of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 26 responded forcefully to previous testimony against a bill that would authorize the County to enter into Project Labor Agreements (PLA). Following Greenhill's testimony, the Council voted 9-0 to pass the PLA bill. 


September 2011 Project Labor Agreement News Video


This video is 100% focused on Project Labor Agreement news and information. PLAs have been a hot-topic this summer and at the Building Trades we provide this monthly video to inform you about the most important information you should know regarding PLAs. 


August 2011 Project Labor Agreement News Video


Project Labor Agreement's Work. And in this video, America's Building Trades Unions explain why and provide evidence contrary to that of the Associated Builders and Contractors.


Rep. Chris Murphy (D - CT) Defends Project Labor Agreements to Subcommittee


Rep. Chris Murphy defends Project Labor Agreements in front of At a hearing of the Technology, IP and Procurement Subcommittee on June 3, 2011

House Rejects Davis-Bacon Repeal and PLA Ban In Homeland Security Bill



The US House of Representatives, during floor debate June 2, voted down an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2012 (H.R. 2017) that would have prohibited the use of Davis-Bacon Act wage rates on construction projects funded by the agency.  In a recorded vote taken June 3, the House also defeated an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would have eliminated funding for President Obama's Executive Order 13502 encouraging federal agencies to consider using project labor agreements on federally funded construction projects.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) offered the amendment (H. Amnd. 386) to strip prevailing wage requirements from projects funded by H.R. 2017. The House rejected the amendment in a vote of 234-183.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) offered the amendment to ban funding for PLAs, which was ultimately defeated in a 213-207 vote.

The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, which supports PLAs, spoke out against the amendment and encouraged legislators to “oppose any efforts to limit consideration of PLAs on federal construction projects.”

 "Smart construction management calls for the federal government, like the private sector, to have the option to consider and establish project [labor] agreements where necessary and appropriate. While banning PLAs on large federal projects in the last administration may have found favor in some circles, unfortunately it did not serve sound construction management in all cases,” SMACNA Governmental Affairs Director Stan Kolbe said in a statement.

Over the summer, members of the Appropriations Committee will continue their mark-up of bills with amendments to limit prevailing wage requirements and project labor agreements.

The House is poised June 13 to consider the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012 (H.R. 2055), which contains a provision that would prohibit funding for PLAs. The White House has released a statement in opposition to this provision, saying “The coordination achieved through PLAs can significantly enhance the economy and efficiency of federal construction projects."

Massachusetts Governor Signs Law to Advance Quincy Redevelopment Project


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick joined Mayor Thomas Koch of Quincy, state and local officials and leaders from the Building Trade Unions to sign into law an act that will move forward the $1.6 billion urban renewal of downtown Quincy and create thousands of new construction and permanent jobs. The signing continues the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to strengthening the Commonwealth’s communities and unlocking new economic development opportunities for public-private partnerships.

“This new law is a great example of how we’re partnering with communities to ensure that state government is responsive to their needs,” said Governor Deval  Patrick. “By supporting this project we are ensuring the Commonwealth’s long-term prosperity by supporting job creation, business growth and community development.”

Governor Deval Patrick in his final remarks thanked the brother and sisters from the building trade unions adding that he knows the work they do will be of the highest quality. 

Bob Rizzi, President of both the Norfolk County Central Labor Council and the Quincy and South Shore Building Trades said, “These are the kind of projects our members specialize in. We are the most well-trained, well-equipped, proudest, most highly-skilled construction trades men and women in the area and we are honored to help give Quincy the face-lift  that is long overdue.”

Rizzi added, “ The Quincy Redevelopment Project is a perfect example of what government can do to step in and help create jobs when the private market refuses to do so. It took creativity and the bold support of our Mayor, our City Council, and Governor Patrick and his administration to make this more than a symbolic bill signing. By signing the bill the Governor not only shows he thinks we are up to the challenge that Quincy has issued itself as a city, but that he also understands job growth and economic development are the top job for all of us in the unions and in state and local government.”

Boston Mayor Menino and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Unveil Groundbreaking Project Labor Agreement on $63M Energy Efficiency Project


Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino was joined on May 20 by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Administrator Bill McGonagle, Ameresco President and CEO George Sakellaris, and Boston Building Trades Council President Martin Walsh to unveil a groundbreaking project labor agreement for the $63 million energy efficiency project at BHA facilities across the city first announced in March 2010.

"In this economy we need agreements like this to keep construction going, get people trained and working," Mayor Menino said. "I'm proud to be able to create good paying union jobs for Boston residents."

The Project Labor Agreement (PLA) between Ameresco, the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District (MBBTC), and the BHA, is the first public housing PLA of its kind since President Obama signed an executive order encouraging the use of PLAs in connection with large-scale construction projects.

"Boston's Project Labor Agreement will create hundreds of jobs for local union workers, public housing residents and small and minority owned businesses, which is exactly why the Obama Administration is actively supporting these agreements across the country as a key step to winning the future," Secretary Donovan said.

City Council Approves Sweeping PLA For the Port of Los Angeles



The Los Angeles City Council this week approved a sweeping Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange Building Trades Council, for five years worth of construction projects coming to the Port of Los Angeles.

The PLA ensures that work will be done by workers earning decent wages and benefits, and that at least 30 percent of those jobs will be set aside for local residents.  The PLA covers

$1.6 billion worth of work on over 35 projects that are expected to create an estimated 6,000 jobs through 2016, some of them starting up this year.

The city council voted unanimously for the PLA, a stunning 14-0 vote, because council members knew, from past experience with PLAs, of the efficient, high-quality work they produce, as well as the better quality of life for area workers.

Los Angeles/Orange BTC Executive Secretary Robbie Hunter attended for the Building Trades, and credited Councilwoman Janice Hahn for leading the pro-PLA effort on the council.  Hahn, endorsed by the Building Trades in next week’s special election for the area’s Congressional seat, was quoted in a newspaper report as stressing the benefits of the PLA for the City, the Port, and the entire South Bay region.

This PLA is a win for everyone:  for the people of Los Angeles who will benefit from the efficient, high-quality construction work at the port for years to come; as well as the workers with good wages and benefits who will help the entire region prosper.

Phase 2 of Multi-Billion Dollar Dulles Airport (VA) Corridor Rail Project to be Done Under a PLA


On April 6, 2011, the full Metro Washington, DC Airport Authority (MWAA) board passed a resolution by a vote of 11-2 that would subject an estimated $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion worth of construction for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project to be conducted under a project labor agreement.  Here is the full text of the resolution: 

Proposed Resolution
Use of a Project Labor Agreement
Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Extension

WHEREAS, The Airports Authority is constructing a 23-mile extension of the existing Metrorail system, to be operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, from West Falls Church Station west through Washington Dulles International Airport to Ashburn, in Loudoun County ("the Project");

WHEREAS, The Authority and Dulles Transit Partners in March 2008 signed a fixed-price contract to build Phase 1 of the Project;

WHEREAS, Dulles Transit Partners negotiated a project labor agreement that has provided for a well trained and highly experienced workforce and has allowed for flexibilty in addressing the working conditions necessary to construct an above-ground heavy rail project in the severely congested area of Northern Virginia;

WHEREAS, A project labor agreement is made between a contractor and one or more labor organizations to establish the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project. Under such an agreement, the labor organizations agree to use the dispute resolution procedure and to forego strikes and other work actions in the event of a disagreement;

WHEREAS, Project labor agreements ensure both schedule and budget certainty and enable the contractor to complete projects on schedule and in a cost-efficient manner;

WHEREAS, Dulles Transit Partners has reported to the Authority that the Phase 1 project labor agreement has provided a reliable, stable supply of trained and skiled union construction craft workers, and promoted safety, quality, and productivity, allowing the delivery of a cost-effective project on time and within budget;

WHEREAS, Dulles Transit Partners has also concluded that the agreement has provided for significant labor efficiencies, reduced the labor risks, and enabled it to provide the lowest cost to perform Phase 1 of the Project;

WHEREAS, Dulles Transit Partners has recommended to the Authority that a project labor agreement much like the one employed in Phase 1 also be utilzed in Phase 2;

WHEREAS, The Authority continues to seek federal-aid funding from the Federal Transit Administration for Phase 2 and therefore seeks to keep the Phase 2 project compliant with federal requirements and preferences;

WHEREAS, The President in February 2009 issued Executive Order 13502, encouraging the use of project labor agreements on projects built with federal aid of more than $25 millon; and

WHEREAS, The Authority wishes to obtain the same benefits enjoyed during Phase 1 through the use of a project labor agreement; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the benefits of the project labor agreement on the Metrorail project have been amply demonstrated;

2. That to assure timely, efficient and cost-effective construction, Phase 2 contracts should include such an agreement;

3. That the President and Chief Executive Officer is authorized and directed to include such an agreement, based as much as is practicable on the agreement used so effectively in Phase 1 of the Metrorail project, in procurement documents for Phase 2 of the project; and

4. That the President and Chief Executive Offcer shall report to the Dulles Corridor (and Business Administration?) Committees on how this Resolution will be implemented.

Approved by the Dulles Corridor Committee and Board of Directors on April 6, 2011.

New Study: Unions Reduce Fatality Rates in Construction





A new study from the University of Michigan's Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy concludes that unionization in the construction industry lowers fatality rates, while so-called right-to-work (RTW) anti-union laws have the opposite effect, resulting in higher fatality rates.

The study compared industry (which can include people on job sites who are not building trades workers, such as drivers), and occupational (people in the building trades) fatality rates in RTW and non-RTW (or unionized) states, and found the rate of industry fatalities is 40 percent higher in RTW states, and the occupational fatality rate is 34 percent higher in RTW states.

The study also noted the millions of dollars spent annually by unions on safety training and accident prevention, and found that even within RTW and non-RTW states, the fatality rate decreased as the percentage of union workers increased.

The study concluded: "Construction unionization is associated with lower industry and occupation fatality rates. Moreover, the positive effect that unions have on reducing fatalities appears to be stronger in states without RTW laws."

The study's message to policy makers was: "States attempting to reduce construction-related fatalities should consider encouraging trade union growth and repealing RTW laws."

Building Trades, Developer Accept PLA For $1.3 Billion Project in Quincy, Mass.

BOSTON—Officials in Quincy, Mass., Dec. 20, 2010, gave final approval to a $1.3 billion construction project to revitalize the city's downtown, with labor provisions governed under terms of a project labor agreement.
The agreement between the private developer Street-Works LLC and the Quincy and South Shore Building Trades Council provides for union labor and arbitration of jurisdictional disputes on the project, according to Mike Monahan, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 in Boston.
According to the city, the project will employ more than 4,000 workers over a seven- to 10-year period, with “significant private development’’ to begin by 2013. An agreement with the city states that 25 percent of jobs will be targeted to Quincy residents. The city will commit $289 million in public infrastructure improvements for the project.
Although labor terms will be governed by the PLA, the 82-page “downtown master agreement’’ also spells out standards that all bidders and subcontractors must meet. It requires them to agree in writing that they will comply with prevailing wage rates; maintain or participate in apprentice training programs; provide health, pension, and workers' comp coverage; and recruit local residents for employment.

Owners' letter tell the tale of the positive impact of Project Labor Agreements

The best way to show the positive impact of PLAs is to read the stories from owners who have reaped the benefits of working under a PLA. Click Here to read the owners' testimonials.

Parsons Corporation – PLA Project Analyses for Woodrow Wilson Bridge (MD/VA) & McCarron Airport (NV)

Parsons Corporation is an engineering and construction firm with revenues of $2.9 billion in 2009.  The company frequently conquers the toughest logistical challenges and delivers landmark design-build projects to private industrial customers worldwide as well as federal, regional, and local government agencies.

Parsons is a leader in many diversified markets such as communications, education, energy, environmental, facilities, federal government, healthcare, infrastructure, life sciences, transportation, vehicle inspection, and water/wastewater.  The Woodrow Wilson project analysis was conducted at the request of the Maryland Department of Transportation; while the McCarron Airport analysis was conducted on behalf of Clark County, NV Commissioners.  In each instance, Parsons Corporation strongly recommended the use of a Project Labor Agreement.

To read the Parsons report on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project, Click Here.

To read the Parsons report on the McCarron Airport project, Click Here.

New Report Touts Best Practices of PLAs

A new report centering on the value and best practices of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), and authored by two of the foremost experts on such agreements, was released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) on August 11, 2010.
The report, entitled Building Better - A Look at Best Practices for the Design of Project Labor Agreements, was conducted by Dr. Dale Belman of Michigan State University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and Matthew Bodah of the University of Rhode Island’s Schmidt Labor Research Center.   The release of the report comes at an opportune time as many federal, state and local agencies – as well as private construction owners – are increasingly turning to PLAs for their construction projects. 
In this particular report Messrs. Belman and Bodah conclude that, when designed properly, PLAs can help projects meet deadlines by guaranteeing a steady, local supply of highly trained and highly productive labor through the nationwide network of referral systems constructed and operated by America’s Building Trades Unions, and by reconciling the various work routines of the many trades.
According to the report, PLAs can improve efficiency and promote innovation by prohibiting restrictive work norms, by improving coordination in work flow, and by supporting experiments in changing the work environment. In addition, many PLAs include highly developed systems of labor/management cooperation.  Further, language in PLAs can be written to advance important policy goals, such as improving training and recruiting members of local disadvantaged communities – not to mention transitioning military veterans – into high-paying careers in the construction trades.
Often PLAs, particularly those on large projects, contain sophisticated health and safety provisions, including those that dictate overall safety practices, create safety committees, mandate safety training and safety meetings, and address such matters as drug screening.
Perhaps the most interesting conclusion raised by the authors of this report relates to non-union contractors.  While nonunion contractors have been, and continue to be, the most vocal opponents of these agreements – primarily as to their use in the public sector – the evidence suggests that, where they have attempted to gain PLA work, nonunion firms have been successful in competing for it.
Click Here to download the entire report.

In the Midst of the Worst Construction Downturn in Generations, Use of Project Labor Agreements Continues to Increase

At a time when construction owners are aggressively seeking the best possible value for their construction investments, they are increasingly turning to the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) to ensure “on time…on budget” results.  This year alone, almost 100 private AND public PLAs – with a dollar value in excess of $80 billion – have been registered and approved by the Building and Construction Trades Department.  These include the first two American nuclear power plant construction projects in over 40 years – Plant Vogtle (GA) and South Texas (TX).

Additionally, scores of other PLAs – such as those that fall under the National Maintenance Agreement, the Powerhouse Maintenance Agreement, the General President’s Project Maintenance Agreement, and the Stack and Chimney Agreement continue to be signed and put into place in every region of the nation on behalf of such private, profit-oriented corporations as ConocoPhillips, BP, Southern Company, Exelon, and Pacific Gas and Electric, to name just a few. 

This continues the trend we saw in 2009, when hundreds of additional PLAs were negotiated and implemented.  All told, in the last few years, PLAs have been signed and implemented to cover in excess of $200 billion of construction work across the United States.  This is a strong testament to the fact that construction owners everywhere (especially those that are profit-oriented and seeking increased value during this current economic downturn) are recognizing more and more the utility of a PLA as a jobsite efficiency tool.  These owners understand that PLAs work to promote productivity by allowing construction managers to more effectively coordinate the numerous contractors on the site, standardize working conditions, and give contractors ready access to a local pool of well-trained and highly skilled workers who have undergone thorough drug-testing and background checks negotiated as part of the agreement. 

Further, PLAs are also being utilized as a community development vehicle to provide career training opportunities for local and disadvantaged residents.

Putting aside all the rhetoric that surrounds the debate over PLAs today (especially when it comes to their use in the public sector), these statistics offer the best argument in their defense.  Facts are facts…and reality is reality.  And the fact is that PLAs – as they have for decades – continue to be utilized in both the private and public sector by large, sophisticated, experienced, and cost-conscious owners, developers, construction managers and contractors, all of whom want the best results in the most cost-effective and time-sensitive manner possible. 

For over 75 years, PLAs have been utilized across the nation – from the Hoover Dam, to NASA’s Space Program, to the Interstate Highway System, to the Trans Alaska Pipeline.  Today, corporations and agencies that range from Disney World, to the Tennessee Valley Authority, along with dozens of professional sports stadiums, and all eight of Toyota’s American manufacturing facilities, are but a small example of major private and public projects that have successfully utilized PLAs.  Even Wal-Mart, the world’s largest corporation whose entire corporate culture is focused upon cost-consciousness, is increasingly turning to PLAs when constructing its retail outlets.

From a single Wal-Mart store, to a local school renovation, to highway and bridge projects, to large industrial projects, PLAs are increasingly being viewed as a valuable tool to ensure project efficiencies and “on time…on budget” results.

If Project Labor Agreements continue to be utilized in increasing numbers by both the profit-oriented private sector and the cost-conscious public sector, there must be a reason.  Clearly, that reason is this:  THEY WORK! 



Report shows insignificant difference in cost of PLAs

A CPWR Small Study project just completed by economists that examined public school construction cost records in Ohio over a 10+ year period. They found that contractors using Responsible Contracting Policies and including health insurance for workers only had higher costs when not adjusted for the location of the project. The school construction in urban locations was more costly than those in rural areas.
Click Here to download the entire report.

Riverside County CA Rejects Ban on PLAs

A proposed ordinance that would have prohibited Riverside County, CA from entering into Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on county construction projects was rejected today by the County’s Board of Supervisors.

A major factor in the defeat of this proposal was the voluminous amount of research that has repeatedly shown that PLAs not only improve working conditions at job sites, but also result in better efficiencies and productivity gains because workers are often better trained.

Last year, the Obama administration issued an Executive Order advocating that federal agencies give preference to PLAs for public works projects carrying a price tag in excess of $25 million. The order countermanded a Bush administration policy prohibiting such agreements.

A host of local tradesmen told the board they were struggling to find work and PLAs might prove beneficial to Riverside County's anemic construction industry, which has been steadily hemorrhaging jobs since last June.

"Where did you ever get the idea that PLAs are bad?" Alex Lopez, a Riverside resident and member of the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, asked one Supervisor who supported the ban.

"I challenge you to put a PLA to the test, and then come back and see if you need to pass this ordinance," Lopez said.

Gabriel Villarreal, with the Riverside County Building & Construction Trades Union, told the board that PLAs protect local labor and ensure workers are documented.

"You have fly-by employers ... bringing a lot of employees from out of state," he said. "We ensure workers on the construction site are from the site area. A lot of people are out of work here."

San Gabriel water district gives big win to organized labor

In a victory for organized labor, the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District has pledged to use union labor - or contractors who agree to union-written requirements - on its future construction projects.

Those projects are expected to include a $210 million water recycling plant and several multi-million dollar endeavors to extend pipeline throughout the district's territory.

The nod to organized labor should help strengthen union support for an $11.1 billion water bond coming before voters in November, board member Charles Treviño said.

"We wanted to be on the record saying that whatever contractor is hired by the district will be expected to pay a prevailing wage, participate in apprenticeship programs, hire people who have the proper training, and hire locally from here in the San Gabriel Valley," Treviño said.

Specifically, the district's board of directors voted 4-1 earlier this month to pass a resolution directing staff to use project labor agreements (PLAs) on public works construction projects.

Project labor agreements require all contractors, union or not, to follow certain labor requirements established before a project goes out to bid.

"It sets criteria for contractors consistent with a union job, but it doesn't mean a non-union company can't bid on the project," Upper District interim general manager Steve Johnson said.

The resolution was largely pushed by Treviño and board member Ed Chavez. Board member Bill Robinson was the only dissenting vote.

Robinson said PLAs would result in future water projects costing ratepayers more. And he said state and federal laws already require contractors be paid prevailing wages and set other labor standards.

But those laws are not always enforced because the state lacks inspectors, according to Richard Slawson, executive secretary of the Los Angeles-Orange County Building Trades Council, which represents union construction workers.

"PLAs make sure contractors are not cheating, not paying unfair wages, not cutting corners on materials," Slawson said.

In addition, the agreements often include provisions requiring contractors to hire local labor and use apprenticeships programs for employee training.

Though many water districts and public agencies use project labor agreements for large projects, most do not have an across-the-board policy to use them on all enterprises, like that approved by the Upper District's board.

PLAs can add costs and additional paperwork to projects, according to Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

But, they can also be very useful at keeping large, complex projects on track, he said. MWD regularly uses the agreements in those circumstances.

Johnson said he didn't know whether Upper District's new PLA policy would result in higher bids from contractors. The district doesn't have a lot of experience with PLAs, he said.

District staff is now charged with coming up with a blueprint for future PLAs that can be modified for specific projects. Staff will meet with union representatives to produce the blueprint, Johnson said.

The district's opportunities to put it to use depend, in part, on the outcome of the water bond before voters in November.

The bond would fund a variety of water projects throughout the state, from reservoirs to water recycling projects. It could include at least $50 million for water recycling projects in the Upper District's territory, according to officials.

More than a half-dozen labor organizations have already given their endorsements to the bond measure, primarily those representing building trades, as is typical with bond measures. The large umbrella AFL-CIO has yet to take a stand.

Treviño said he thought the board's decision would help build more support.

"The skilled trades will support this bond. It will be a jobs stimulus," he said.

Southern California Port and Water Districts Endorse PLAs With Los Angeles / Orange County Building Trades

Within a span of about 12 hours, the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building Trades Council scored two major victories, winning support for Project Labor Agreements (PLA) from the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on March 1, and the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District Board of Directors on March 2.

The Harbor Commissioners voted unanimously for a PLA for a $150 million project for the first phase of its 10-year program to expand and modernize the Port. Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster testified that in his experience, PLAs always come in ahead of schedule and under budget, and have the added benefits of employing local residents and offering career opportunities for young people. A great turnout of building trades affiliates clinched the victory.

The Water District board voted to authorize negotiations on a PLA for $50 million worth of upcoming water conveyance projects such as pipelines and filtration plants. Again, a great turnout of building trades affiliates was instrumental, as was the support of West Covina City Councilmember Roger Hernandez, now a candidate for the Assembly in the 47th District.

Both successful votes also stem from years of work by LA/OC BTC Executive Secretary Richard Slawson, informing and educating local government officials about the benefits of PLAs.

California Court Upholds Legality of Project Labor Agreements

In yet another victory for Project Labor Agreements, the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, denied on December 11 a petition for injunctive relief filed by the San Diego Chapter of the Associated General Contractors in relation to the apprenticeship provisions of the Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA) negotiated by the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).

In her decision, Judge Judith F. Hayes upheld the validity of this agreement by declaring that “The Court finds the contractual apprenticeship provisions in the District’s PSA are consistent with the Labor Code and do not circumvent legislative authority.  The District acted in its proprietary interests in adopting the PSA.  The PSA is specific to the Proposition S projects and does not discriminate against non-union contractors.

The San Diego had filed the lawsuit against the SDUSD over the provision in the PSA that mandates that only apprentices associated with a state-certified apprenticeship program can perform work on about $2.1 billion worth of voter-approved school construction bond projects over the next several years.

San Diego voters approved Proposition S bonds in November 2008 to repair and improve school facilities and infrastructure.

Going Green with PLAs – California Building Trades Unions and Bechtel Construction Company Reach Agreement to Build Solar Thermal Facility

Bechtel Construction Company and two labor organizations today announced an agreement for the construction of BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Electricity Generating System, a 440-megawatt solar power facility in southeastern California.

Under the Project Labor Agreement (PLA), the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC), and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties will provide qualified, skilled craft workers to BrightSource's Ivanpah project, and Bechtel will provide fair wages, fringe benefits, and working conditions for all craft workers.

"This project is a great example of how the new green technology is now providing real jobs for thousands of workers," said Robert Balgenorth, president of the SBCTC. "This PLA ensures that the jobs will provide good wages and benefits for workers, who will provide the highest quality of work, resulting in new, cleaner energy for generations to come."

"This agreement reflects our positive relationship with Bechtel Construction Company and reinforces our continuing support for this innovative project and the jobs it will generate," said William Perez, executive secretary and business manager for the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, Building and Construction Trades Council. "The PLA provides the framework under which our members will work on the job site. We are committed to completing this construction job on schedule, within budget and safely."

BrightSource's Ivanpah facility, comprising three solar thermal power plants, is scheduled to begin construction in 2010 following final permitting by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The project will result in approximately 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction, with total construction wages of approximately $250 million.

"This is a significant agreement," said Ian Copeland, president of Bechtel Renewables and New Technology. "It not only benefits labor and Bechtel, it benefits the entire renewable energy industry as it grows to meet the increasing demand for clean energy. The success of this agreement will point the way for the construction of future renewable energy projects."

BrightSource's Ivanpah plants will produce enough clean energy to power 150,000 homes and displace more than 450,000 tons (408,000 metric tonnes) of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 75,000 cars off the road. The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts BrightSource Energy established with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE).

"We are pleased that Bechtel and California labor unions have been able to conclude the PLA for our Ivanpah project, which will provide a significant boost to the High Desert region's economic development activities," said John Woolard, CEO and president of BrightSource Energy. "Ivanpah will be a model clean energy project, setting the bar with its highly-efficient technology and environmentally-responsible design. We look forward to Bechtel and the unions delivering our project in a timely, cost-effective, high quality manner, with an exemplary safety culture."

The Ivanpah facility will utilize BrightSource Energy's proven Luz Power Tower 550 technology (LPT 550). The system produces electricity the same way as traditional power plants -- by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses thousands of mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine which generates electricity. This fully integrated system takes advantage of high operating efficiencies and low capital costs to provide reliable and low-cost carbon-free energy.

The system is also designed to minimize the solar plant's environmental impact, reducing the need for extensive land grading and concrete pads. In order to conserve precious desert water, the LPT 550 system uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in water usage compared to conventional wet-cooling. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally friendly closed system. Ivanpah will use approximately 100 acre feet of water -- the equivalent of 300 homes worth of annual water use and 25 times less water than used by competing technologies that employ wet-cooling.

Today the company's LPT 550 solar system is employed at the Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel's Negev Desert. Operating over the past year, the SEDC is producing the world's highest temperature turbine quality steam from solar energy.

Don't take our word for it, take it from the people who have seen the results firsthand
Dean Nance, Superintendent of Ironton City Schools (Ironton, Ohio), Howard Harrison, Executive Director – Facilities Management of King’s Daughters Medical Center (Ashland, Kentucky) and Ken Cook, Superintendent of South Point Local School District (South Point, Ohio) speak to their personal experience of the value of PLAs.

"I would like to thank the local trades for partnering with the Ironton City Schools on a Project Labor Agreement.  The quality of trades union workmanship on both projects has proven to be excellent and the collaboration among the trades make this a superior project.  We experienced minimal problems throughout the whole construction process and were able to successfully resolve all problems collectively as a team.  I wholeheartedly recommend a Project Labor Agreement on any construction project.

The two buildings combined to make up a $53 million project.  The buildings were completed within budget and on schedule.  The K-8 building was on a very tight schedule, and would not have been finished without the dedication of the union trades’ hard work.  This was the largest construction undertaking in the city of Ironton in decades.  I put my trust in the tradesmen to provide quality structures and they did not let me down.  Ironton now has the nicest schools in Lawrence County and the state of Ohio.  Your workmanship will always be part of the tradition of Ironton City Schools."

Dean Nance
Superintendent, Ironton City Schools
Ironton, Ohio

"As you know, King’s Daughters Medical Center and the Tri-State Building and Construction Trades Council entered into an agreement, which provided the Medical Center a reduction in wages as well as other concessions from the building trades.  The Building Trades, represented by the council, received the right to do all work on King’s Daughters campus.  This agreement began in 2004 and remains in effect through this writing.

From our recent conversation, as the Executive Director of Facilities Management, I wanted to follow-up in writing to assure you that we feel the agreement has served both organizations well.  With our aggressive growth at the Medical Center, this agreement has simplified my worries with regard to matching the right contractor with the right project and being able to do so in a timely fashion.  Knowing we have qualified trades available right here in the Ashland area to meet whatever our demands and needs may be at any given moment has truly been a good investment for the Medical Center.  The workmanship we have been given, and continue to get, from the Building Trades has also been excellent."

Howard Harrison
Executive Director – Facilities Management
King’s Daughters Medical Center
Ashland, Kentucky

"I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Tri-State Building and Construction Trades Council for the job well-done on the completion of two new elementary schools in the South Point Local School District.  The buildings exhibit quality craftmanship and will provide the students and citizens of the school district many years of service.  The contractors worked diligently to keep the buildings on schedule and on budget.  The cooperation, coordination, and professionalism from your members was outstanding.

Prior to us signing a project labor agreement, I had my doubts that the project would ever get off the ground without going through the “value engineering” process that would have reduced the quality and design of the buildings.  As you may recall, the first two rounds of bids came in way over budget.  However, once we agreed to implement the project labor agreement, the bids came in much lower and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Having been engaged in building projects with and without project labor agreements, I can say without reservation that construction goes much smoother and less problems are encountered when using a project labor agreement.  More importantly, it permits the work force to be made up of local people from the Tri-State area who take special ownership of the project because not only are they taxpayers, but they have children and grandchildren who attend our schools.

In closing, let me once again express my sincere thanks to the Tri-State Building and Construction Trades Council for your partnership in helping make our construction project a success."

Ken Cook
South Point Local School District
South Point, Ohio

New Study Further Debunks the Claims that Responsible Contractor Policies and Project Labor Agreements Are Too Costly
A new study concludes that the benefits of adopting of  Responsible Contractor Policies (RCPs) – which are the fundamental underlying principle of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) – may be obtained without significantly raising costs to taxpayers. Read More

Project Labor Agreement Approved for Power Plant in Lodi, CA

Despite intense lobbying and premature boasting by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Board of the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) voted overwhelmingly today in favor of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) and maintenance agreement for construction of a $432 million power plant in Lodi, CA. 
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Exposing the ABC for Who They Really Are

In his latest President's Message, Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers discussed  the distortions, falsehoods and outright lies being perpetrated by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

Good Jobs, Healthy Cities

The American Prospect details how some city governments are using their economic muscle to promote good jobs.
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Deaths, Illegal & Legal Problems

The Contractor Critic exposes Miller & Long Concrete Construction's form of modern day slavery through the hiring of illegal workers, convicts and how M&L then it lobbies this to Congress in an effort to legalize this scam.
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Ooops...ABC Panelist at Michigan PLA Conference Admits Project Labor Agreements Can Be a Good Thing

The credibility of the Associated Builders and Contractors was called into question by a panelist who formally appeared with other representatives from the Associated Builders and Contractors during a conference on Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) held at Michigan State University openly admitting that PLAs can be “a good thing.”
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Industry, Academic, Government and Community Experts Confirm Economic and Social Value of PLAs at Michigan State University Conference

Experts from the construction industry, academia, local government and a community advocacy organization spoke to the value of project labor agreements at a conference jointly sponsored by the School of Labor & Industrial Relations and the School of Planning Design & Construction at Michigan State University.
Read the full story

The Building and Construction Trades Department position on PLA Federal Law

Submitted Comments of the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) on Proposed Federal Rule Encouraging the Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects.
Read the BCTD's Position Statement

San Diego Unified Fight Website Launched

In anticipation of a report on school construction costs and PLAs in California commissioned by the ABC San Diego Chapter, a website has been launched to help educate the public and the media on the issues. This website pulls together information gathered in anticipation of the San Diego Unified fight. Visit the site at

Canton Mayor, City Council Support PLA Ordinance

Canton Mayor William Healy, III is making news within the labor movement, and the news he’s creating is very positive. After nearly 20 years of work within the East Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council (ECOBCTC), the Canton City Council and Mayor Healy have put into affect a city-wide project labor agreement.
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Baseball Park in Nation’s Capital

The new Washington DC ballpark was built quickly and safely in 23 months by utilizing design-build with design-assist, 3D steel modeling and the use of a project PLA.
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We Build the Stadium

Information on how the construction of the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium has provided more opportunity for jobs and advancement for District residents than any public project in the city’s recent history.