By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA and 13 other industry groups have renewed a call for President Donald Trump to eliminate project labor agreements (PLAs) from federal-aid and federally-funded construction projects. In a Jan. 24 letter, the groups urged the current administration to rescind an Obama-era policy favoring such “union-only” provisions, which specify the sources of labor for projects and subject the contractor to several related hiring and human resources requirements.

President Trump is expected to discuss his infrastructure plan during the Jan. 30 State of the Union address. A six-page document claimed to be a draft of the plan was leaked earlier this week.  The PLA letter was intended to raise awareness of this issue during the coming debate about the president’s initiative.

Nine years ago, the Obama administration issued an executive order requiring PLAs on many direct federal construction projects and encouraging their use on federal-aid projects, which comprises most of the federal highway program. The action essentially reversed an executive order from the previous George W. Bush administration, which forbade the use of PLAs on those projects.

The vast majority of ARTBA members –whether those utilizing a union or non-union workforce –oppose the mandating of PLAs. Among other shortcomings, these agreements can undermine existing collective bargaining agreements, create union jurisdiction issues and limit competition among contractors, which can drive up costs.