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Rochester Building Trades, Non-Profit Seek Injunction to Reinstate PLA for School Construction

One of the (very well done) modernization projects

One of the (very well done) modernization projects

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The Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council is gearing up for a legal battle over the inclusion of a project labor agreement (PLA) on the biggest public works project in Rochester’s history. Together with the nonprofit Rochester Careers in Construction Inc., the council is seeking a preliminary injunction that would reinstate the PLA on Phase II of the city’s $1.3 billion school modernization program.

Earlier this month, the Rochester Joint Schools Construction Board cancelled the PLA in 4-3 vote:

The agreement, which was in place for the first phase of the modernization program, required contractors to use union labor, laid out wage and other rules and embraced goals for hiring disadvantaged employees and minority and women-owned firms. The agreement required trade unions to allow non-union contractors to hire their apprentices, and officials have credited the PLA with helping contractors meet or exceed minority and women employment goals in Phase I.

Detractors claim that the PLA was ineffective, but labor organizations have supplied plenty of evidence that indicates otherwise. They also claim the board violated the law when they canceled the PLA:

The board’s vote to kill the agreement violates the law on several counts, the union organization charges. The organized labor group, a coalition of 18 area building trades unions, helped write provisions calling for minority and female involvement and hewed to those provisions, the union organization states. 

[…] An audit conducted by a company hired by the city certified that minority and female hiring goals were met and actually exceeded in the project’s first phase. The labor agreement’s cancellation will actually mean fewer opportunities for woman and minorities, add $14 million to the project’s costs and create unneeded delays, the union organization maintains.

The Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council filed for the injunction last Tuesday in the New York State Supreme Court. Phase II of the project is scheduled to see 13 city schools updated or rebuilt, with a price tag of $435 million.


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