On July 20th, we were discouraged by the big, Boston-area newspapers for refusing to publish an op-ed in response to a piece they ran demonizing Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).
Last week, though, The Boston Globe published two op-ed’s that finally provided some support, from the union standpoint, for the central role of PLAs in the future of Massachusetts construction.
Ed Collins takes on the the argument that PLAs “effectively exclude” nonunion workers and nonunion firms from working on these projects:
Nonunion workers can and often do find employment on jobs done under project labor agreements. When so employed, however, they work under the terms and conditions of the union contract, which generally provides them with better wages, job safety, and other working conditions.
In addition, nonunion firms are not excluded from bidding on work done under a project labor agreement. Such firms simply need to become temporarily signatory to the union contract that is in effect during the duration of that job.
The debate over MA PLAs was re-energized when one such contract was awarded on the Whittier Bridge project. The Globe doubled down on its week-and-change-late balance allowance by printing a second letter from Erin Johansson, the Research Director of American Rights at Work, who cites research showing that PLAs do not raise costs on large construction projects:
Numerous studies indicate that PLAs ensure that construction projects are completed on time and on budget.
In fact, a recent independent university report found that PLAs led to substantial improvements in efficiency and safety.
Furthermore, the Beacon Hill Institute figures cited in the editorial were discredited by researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Tennessee, who found no evidence of project costs increasing because of the use of a PLA.
The value of PLAs to communities forward will be tremendous as their inclusivity, safety standards and built-in efficiencies help workers, contractors and the taxpayer alike. Kudos to the Boston Globe for allowing the city’s residents to have a fair shot at much needed information.