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Northern Ohio Building Trades Sue School Officials for Rescinding Project Labor Agreement


In Northern Ohio, a fight has been brewing surrounding Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).  In March, the Lorain City Council scrapped PLAs, in particular the implementation of one for local high school construction. The 8-2 anti-PLA vote went against the wishes of Mayor Chase Ritenauer.  Now, the North Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council (NCOBCTC) has filed a lawsuit in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas.

The lawsuit names Lorain City Schools as well as the Ohio School Facilities Commission and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. Tim Williams, President of the Lorain School Board, told The Morning Journal that the lawsuit was unlikely to affect construction“:

Our project is on schedule on this point and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to indicate our schedule would be compromised,” Williams said. “We don’t anticipate any slow downs, stoppages or anything like that in the work process.”

The NCOBCTC is asking the courts for an order to make Lorain City Schools comply with their original PLA.  They are also seeking attorney’s fees and other financial awards.  The NCOBCTC claims that the Lorain Schools broke their contract when they rescinded their PLA that was to govern the construction and renovation of three separate schools in the district:

“Among other things, the PLA requires contractors performing work Lorain City High School project to pay wages and benefits established under the respective trades collective bargaining agreements and work under other terms and conditions of employment provided for therein,” the lawsuit said. “The PLA establishes provisions to ensure residents of Lorain County will perform work on the Lorain City High School project.”

Before construction could begin, the Ohio School Facilities Commission passed a resolution stating that it would not approve any contract mandating wage levels beyond the scope of federal law.  In doing so it allowed the Lorain School Board to accept bids from contractors who would not follow the guidelines of the PLA.

The lawsuit claims that, “The school board’s repudiation of the PLA has caused significant harm to NCOBCTC, its affiliates, each affiliate’s individual union members and the local communities in and around Lorain County, Ohio, who would have been more likely to perform work on the Lorain City High School Project.”


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