Associated Builders and Contractors released the following statement criticizing a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. departments of Labor and Transportation advancing workforce policy initiatives on DOT-funded infrastructure projects, including controversial project labor agreements.

“Project labor agreements will exclude 87.4% of America’s construction workforce from competing for and building infrastructure projects funded by the Department of Transportation, increasing construction costs by 12% to 20% and undermining taxpayer investments in public works projects,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “PLAs and other exclusionary policies in this MOU will exacerbate the construction industry’s workforce shortage of 650,000 this year.

“If the Biden administration is serious about creating opportunities for a diverse and local construction workforce, it should abandon PLA schemes, which disproportionately exclude nonunion local, minority-, veteran- and women-owned businesses and their employees from bidding on and building public works projects,” said Brubeck.

Since President Biden signed Executive Order 14063 on Feb. 4 mandating PLAs on projects of $35 million or more, numerous business groups and lawmakers have objected to the administration’s push for government-mandated PLAs on both federal and federally assisted public works projects.

On Feb. 15, ABC and 15 organizations representing tens of thousands of companies and millions of employees in the construction industry sent a letter to President Biden outlining these concerns. On Feb. 28, ABC and a coalition of 19 organizations from the construction industry and the business community sent a letter to Congress in support of the Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 403/H.R. 1284), which would restrict government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted construction projects.

On March 7, Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., led a group of 42 Senate Republicans in sending a letter to President Biden opposing Executive Order 14063, saying that “a fair and open bidding process for federal construction projects would guarantee the best value for hardworking taxpayers located in all geographies and regions across the United States.” Today, Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., and 59 House members signed a letter to President Biden saying that PLA mandates and preferences will “deny critical construction jobs to local workers and small businesses,” urging the White House to refrain from “attaching strings to infrastructure funding that create discriminatory barriers to recovery.”