- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Last week, Brett McMahon, a member of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC) wrote a Commentary column (“Yet another reason to oppose Obamacare,” Tuesday) arguing that project labor agreements (PLAs) discriminate against nonunion contractors and increase construction costs.

Before addressing the claims, we should first consider the source. ABC is an organization with a history of seeking to drive down wages and community standards - and that is exactly what it is doing when it attacks PLAs.

PLAs are simply agreements with contractors that set working conditions, hours and scheduling for complex construction projects. They have a proven track record of success and help build America by ensuring that construction projects are completed on time and under budget while turning jobs into careers with good pay, benefits and skills training that opens doors to new opportunities for working people.

Numerous studies have shown that PLAs do not increase construction costs because better wages, when coupled with training and a dedicated work force, generally are offset by greater productivity, cost savings related to safer job sites and local economic benefits that result from good paychecks.

PLAs do not discriminate against nonunion contractors - any contractor abiding by the terms of the agreement can bid on a PLA project. However, PLAs do keep unscrupulous contractors from using taxpayer money to drive down wages and community standards in order to increase profits.

At a time of economic struggle - led by 22.7 percent unemployment in the construction industry - we should be lifting up working people and local communities, not hurting them by letting a corporate lobby destroy an important tool for building America and creating good jobs.

TERENCE M. O’SULLIVAN

General president, Laborers’ International Union of North America

Washington

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