No PLA for JBLM hangar project after AGC protests

The Army Corps will not be pursuing a project labor agreement (PLA) for a large hangar project at JBLM after AGC expressed its opposition. AGC applauds this decision particularly in light of the recent uptick in the use of PLAs on federal projects.

The U.S. Army Corps of Seattle District (USACE) asked AGC for input on a potential PLA on the Large Aviation Maintenance Hangar – PN76777 at Gray Army Airfield.

“AGC neither supports nor opposes contractors’ voluntary use of PLAs for the Hangar Project or elsewhere but we strongly oppose any government mandate for contractors’ use of PLAs” said AGC Southern District Manager in his response to the Corps. “AGC is committed to free and open competition for publicly funded work and believes that the lawful labor relations policies and practices of private construction contractors should not be a factor in a government agency’s selection process. AGC believes that neither a public project owner nor its representative should compel any firm to change its lawful labor policies or practices to compete for or perform public work as PLAs effectively do. AGC also believes that government mandates for PLAs can restrain competition drive up costs cause delays lead to jobsite disputes and disrupt local collective bargaining. If a PLA would benefit the construction of a particular project the contractors otherwise qualified to perform the work would be the first to recognize that fact and they would be the most qualified to negotiate such an agreement. Accordingly AGC urges USACE to refrain from imposing a PLA mandate and to defer to the prime contractor post-award as to whether a PLA is appropriate for the Hangar Project.”

Attebery also addressed the Corps questions and concerns regarding the local market for skilled trades.

“While some skilled trades are beginning to become more scarce than in recent downturn years there should be a sufficient supply of skilled workers for the project” Attebery said. “We know of no major projects in the area that would impact the availability of skilled labor for the present project and anticipate no volatility in the current labor market. The local building trades report a 10-15% rate of unemployment in the JBLM area bolstering the case for the availability of skilled workers. Moreover should a skilled labor shortage arise AGC questions how a PLA mandate would remedy the problem particularly given how little union representation there is among construction workers in the area (as discussed further below). Is there objective evidence that the local union hiring halls for the specific trades needed for this project will be able to supply the number of workers needed? Is there evidence that they can supply such labor more efficiently or effectively than other labor and recruitment resources that may be available? If there is such evidence AGC believes that the general contractor on the project would be in the best position to assess that information in light of all other considerations and to determine on a voluntary basis whether a PLA would be appropriate for the project.”

For more information contact Tim Attebery 253-896-0033.