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Corps Projects Defy UnionsÌ Upbeat Labor Agreement Tally

In an optimistic review of bidding trends friendly to members, BCTD pegs nearly 100 public and private construction contracts, valued in excess of $80 billion, awarded year to date

Sources: CP staff; AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) and Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), Washington, D.C.

In an optimistic review of bidding trends friendly to members, BCTD pegs nearly 100 public and private construction contracts, valued in excess of $80 billion, awarded year to date. Each contract is bound by a project labor agreement (PLA) setting wages for trades and, at times, construction material delivery drivers. Owners understand that such agreements, BCTD contends, 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.

BCTD figures do not include two new contracts for which the Army Corps of Engineers has removed PLA requirements: a technical applications center at Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County, Fla., and an Armed Forces Reserve Center in Camden, N.J. On the former job, ABC President Kirk Pickerel noted in a mid-August statement, Less than 2 percent of the construction workforce in Florida is affiliated with a labor organization, yet the federal government was willing to increase costs for all taxpayers and discriminate against 98 percent of the industry just to reward special interests ÷ ABC will continue to fight any attempt to impose PLAs on federal construction projects, as these special interest schemes violate competitive bidding laws, reduce competition, [and] increase construction costs.

Toward month's end, the Corps eliminated a solicitation requirement that would have confined the pool of bidders on the Camden project to contractors willing to work under a PLA. The action was in response to a bid protest ABC member Wu & Associates Inc., Cherry Hill, N.J., filed with the Government Accountability Office. The CorpsÌ decision is a real win for all taxpayers, notes Kirby Wu, AIA, adding that the PLA would have cut competition from qualified merit shop contractors and their skilled employees. Û Don Marsh