Corps of Engineers withdraw PLA requirement

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Solicitations requiring bidders on certain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) construction projects to submit an executed project labor agreement (PLA) prompted contractors to write and call agency officials expressing their concern. On August 18, the agency announced that it was withdrawing the PLA requirement.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) sent a letter to the USACE’s Mobile District demanding information about the agency’s justification for including a PLA mandate in a solicitation for the construction of an Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. The letter questioned how it determined that the conditions listed in President Obama’s executive order on PLAs were present.

The requirement, along with similar mandates by other contracting agencies and information about pressure from higher in the Administration, also prompted AGC to send a letter calling on President Obama to protect contracting officers from such political pressure, and to send an “unmistakable and public” message that political appointees should not cross the line between politics and procurement.

AGC’s letter to the USACE pointed out that the executive order leaves the agency free to refrain from requiring a PLA on the Patrick Air Force Base project and that it permits the agency to require a PLA only if the USACE has determined that all of the following conditions exist:

1. The project will cost the federal government $25 million or more;
2. Use of a PLA on the project will advance the federal government’s interest in achieving economy and efficiency in federal procurement;
3. Use of a PLA on the project will advance the federal government’s interest in producing labor-management stability;
4. Use of a PLA on the project will advance the federal government’s interest in ensuring compliance with laws and regulations governing safety and health, equal employment opportunity, labor and employment standards, and other matters; and
5. Use of a PLA will be consistent with law.

While AGC neither supports nor opposes PLAs in general, AGC strongly opposes government mandates for PLAs on publicly funded construction projects. AGC is committed to free and open competition in all public construction markets and believes that publicly funded contracts should be awarded without regard to the lawful labor relations policies and practices of the government contractor. Read More.

The Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) applauded the USACE for removing a proposed, mandatory project labor agreement. “Less than 2 percent of the construction workforce in Florida is affiliated with a labor organization, yet the federal government was willing to increase costs for all taxpayers and discriminate against 98 percent of the industry just to reward special interests,” said ABC President and CEO Kirk Pickerel. “ABC will continue to fight any attempt to impose PLAs on federal construction projects, as these special interest schemes violate competitive bidding laws, reduce competition, increase construction costs and needlessly inject political favoritism into the federal procurement process,” Pickerel added. Read More.

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