ABC of Western Pennsylvania Files Lawsuit Against Community College of Allegheny County
CCAC Should Follow Lead of the Westmoreland County Commissioners and Terminate Costly, Anti-Competitive Project Labor Agreement Requirements
Pittsburgh, May 11th—Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit to stop the Community College of Allegheny County from requiring its contractors to execute a project labor agreement with the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council.
The college’s project labor agreement prohibits nonunion craftspeople from working on the college’s construction projects unless they affiliate with a union approved by the college. It also prohibits nonunion contractors from obtaining work unless they abide by the union’s work rules and contribute to the union’s pension and health-care funds. The lawsuit was filed on May 1, 2020, in the U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania.
“This is the latest union attempt to drive out competition and shut out the more than 70%
of Pennsylvania’s construction workforce that chooses not to join a union,” said Pete Gum, president of ABC of Western Pennsylvania. “Project labor agreements are proven to hike project costs, which is the last thing CCAC or any other budget-conscious institution wants during the economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.”
Studies on the effects of government-mandated project labor agreements in California, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio found that PLAs increase the cost of school construction by 12% to 20%. A total of 25 states have outlawed government-mandated project labor agreements on public-works projects.
Project labor agreements discriminate against nonunion firms and workers. When mandated by a government or entity like a school system, PLAs typically force builders—union or not—to follow union work rules and hire most or all workers on a jobsite from designated union hiring halls and union apprenticeship programs. That limits the pool of bidders, since nonunion contractors and union contractors that employ workers in unions that do not belong to the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council don’t want to abandon their existing employees and quality control practices—key components of a safe and productive workplace—for strangers from union halls governed by unfamiliar rules.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court agreed with PLA opponents, ruling that the state Department of Transportation violated state competitive-bidding laws and discriminated against qualified local builders and their employees when it forced contractors to execute a PLA with certain government-approved unions on the Route 202/Markley Street road project in Montgomery County.
Earlier this year, the Westmoreland County Commissioners decided to terminate its PLA requirement on county taxpayer-funded construction projects in response to a lawsuit filed by ABC of Western Pennsylvania. Commissioners repealed the county law due to the mounting legal pressure, which highlighted the unconstitutional nature of PLAs under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees prohibiting mandatory union dues.
“We strongly urge CCAC to look at the high price tag, anti-competitive nature and legal precedents associated with project labor agreements, “ said Gum. “They should follow the lead of Westmoreland County, which wisely terminated its requirement and opened construction bidding to fair and open competition.”
Additional plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Arrow Electric Inc., Hampton Mechanical Inc., Lawrence Plumbing LLC, R.A. Glancy & Sons Inc., Westmoreland Electric Services LLC, Gregory H. Oliver Jr., Daniel Vincent Glancy, Robert L. Casteel and Jason Phillip Boyd.
Associated Builders and Contractors is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents more than 21,000 members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 69 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit us at abc.org.