Opinion Piece Describes Effects of Project Labor Agreements on Workers and Costs

An opinion piece in Center Maryland written by representatives of the Baltimore Metro and Washington Metro Associated Builders and Contractors discusses the effect Project Labor Agreements have on local workers and project costs.

Officially, Union-Only Project Labor Agreements (or PLA’s) date back at least to the earliest days of the Clinton Administration. Unofficially, the concept of union-only dates back significantly further. Back in the day, organized labor represented the majority of construction workers in this country, and union bosses called the shots and controlled nearly every aspect of the project — from manpower and productivity to the availability of materials and supplies. They held sway. But “back in the day” is more than 60 years ago. Today, barely 10 percent of the construction workforce in Maryland belongs to a union.

The reasons today’s construction worker has rejected union membership are both broad and nuanced and would require more space to cover than what we have been allotted. Suffice to say, the political machinations of union rules, of who gets what job and gets paid what wage, frustrates all but the least enterprising employee.

The writers describe the effects as follows,

Union-only project labor agreements discriminate against local workers, minority and women-owned firms, and discourage competition, which in turn drives up the cost.

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