Over the strong objections of AGC the Sound Transit Board voted last week to continue using a controversial PLA for billions of dollars in upcoming light rail projects. The PLA was used on Sound Transits first major phase of capital projects called Sound Move. The board voted to extend the agreement to light rail construction under Sound Transit 2 the $17.8 billion package approved by voters in 2008.
Bob Adams (Guy F. Atkinson Construction) and John Welch (Harbor Pacific Contractors) joined AGC Seattle District Manager Jerry Dinndorf in testifying against the PLA extension at a Sound Transit hearing. In addition in a letter signed by contractor members and AGC Executive Vice President David DHondt AGC fought the extension of the Phase I PLA into Sound Transit 2 projects.
The letter said in part:
A one-size-fits-all PLA approach is by its very nature an inefficient and therefore costly solution. In our view the use of the Sound Transit mandated labor agreement has resulted in more issues than benefits. We believe it is time to let industry use tried and proven practices to accomplish the work. For most projects Sound Transit’s objectives can best be met through competitive bidding normal practices and use of the Master Labor Agreements. When deemed necessary Sound Transit should establish minimum provisions such as labor harmony and apprenticeship requirements and require the successful bidder to reach an agreement with labor to achieve those objectives. This approach will give Sound Transit cost effective solutions to any perceived workforce issues without unduly interfering with local industry labor practices.