Conservative blogs have touted Louisiana Senate Bill 76, introduced by Republican State Senator Danny Martiny, as pro-business legislation “aimed against contracts negotiated between employers and unions.” The main article in circulation, Kevin Mooney’s “Louisiana Bill Pre-Empts Union-Backed Project Labor Agreements,” is full of falsehoods and skewed facts being jettisoned by the construction industry’s most notorious anti-union lobby, the Associated Builders and Contractors. “PLAs call for construction contractors, including those non-unionized, to require their employees to be represented by a union on government-funded construction projects,” Mooney writes. “In practice, they lock out non-union construction shops from the bidding process.”
The truth is, Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) do not prohibit non-union labor. Rather, PLAs set out to ensure that a minimum percentage of workers are local hires, so that at least a nominal portion of the people working on a given project are from the community the construction will benefit, effectively bolstering the local community and the local economy. Insofar as PLA’s attempt to bring union labor on to the jobsite, PLAs ensure that a fair wage is paid and that the workers have a level of training that guarantees not only timely completion of the project, but also a final product safe enough for community members to remain out of harm’s way. What eliminating Project Labor Agreements from the project bidding process does is open the flood gates for unscrupulous employers to hire cheap, undocumented, misclassified and out of state workers to maintain the lowest possible bidding price. With this “race to the bottom” approach, contractors ensure slower, more costly completion of the construction with uncertain results. Moreover, this kind of approach costs the community dearly, not just in the near-term where local workers are denied jobs in their own cities and towns, but also in the lost taxes that are attached to the undocumented and misclassified workforce.
The effectiveness of Project Labor Agreements has been proven time and again on the national scale, where federal agencies again this year voted to uphold their use. As Mooney’s article notes, “Even if the bill were to pass, Louisiana would still follow federally mandated PLAs; SB 76 only applies to state agencies.”
Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 130 (New Orleans), have sent out an action alert asking members, past and present, to bring their friends and families to the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge today, at 11AM, to protest Senate Bill 76.
WHAT: Protest of SB76
WHERE: Louisiana State Capitol // 900 North 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, LA // (225) 342-7317