Continued from page 1

President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, had previously issued an executive order barring the agreements on federal construction projects. President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, later rescinded the order.

Political debate

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, had long hinted that the $150 million Virginia is scheduled to deliver for the project could be held up if the labor agreement was unfavorable.

“Obviously I can’t have a PLA agreement that violates Virginia’s right-to-work laws,” he said while the negotiations were under way.

Other local politicians went further, expressing concern that aside from the right-to-work laws — which MWAA officials insisted would be fully complied with — any type of mandatory labor agreement would drive up costs.

“Companies in Virginia won’t bid on it, and then it drives the price up,” said Delegate Timothy D. Hugo, Fairfax Republican. “We’re going to be taking Virginia taxpayer money and exporting it to New York and Pennsylvania firms, and that’s just wrong.”

Delegate Robert H. Brink, Arlington Democrat, said the fuss about the agreement had unnecessarily injected ideology into the project.

“We need to go forward with rail to Dulles,” he said. “All of the stakeholders are engaged in very, very delicate negotiations and discussions to try to assemble a funding package that works, and to try to inject this ideological issue into the middle of it is wrong.”

After learning of Wednesday’s vote, Mr. Brink reiterated his stance.

“This is a business decision that MWAA is making based on how it can best manage the specifics of the project,” he said. “I think this was largely based on anti-union animus, and I’m not sure that goes along with serving this project well.”

Business reluctance

Some businesses had said the language originally approved by the agency board regarding the agreement was scaring them away.

“We’re very interested in Phase 2, but if you put it with a PLA, and you’re not with a union contractor, then how can you bid it?” said Bill Dean, president of M.C. Dean, a design-building company that has done work on Phase 1 of the project. He said the agreement might have made the costs associated with the job too high for his company to consider bidding.

Trade groups also were wary.

“The fact that this could actually occur in the commonwealth of Virginia, one of the birthplaces of right-to-work, is insane,” said Brett McMahon, head of Miller Long Concrete.

Story Continues →