A diverse group of 17 construction and business associations today urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to ensure taxpayer investments in the semiconductor industry are not needlessly constrained by anti-competitive and inflationary project labor agreement schemes imposed through after-the-fact regulatory action by the Biden administration.

According to the coalition letter, a project labor agreement preference policy in the Department of Commerce’s grant program could undermine congressional authority; exacerbate a shortage of construction industry skilled labor; discourage competition from quality large, small and disadvantaged construction businesses; and needlessly increase construction costs for applicants at the expense of taxpayers and national trade and security objectives.

As the construction industry awaits a controversial final rule to mandate PLAs on federal construction contracts of $35 million or more, Congress is pushing back on the administration’s proposal with the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1209/S. 537), which would prevent federal agencies and recipients of federal assistance from requiring or encouraging contractors to sign a discriminatory PLA as a condition of winning a federal or federally assisted taxpayer-funded construction contract. Government-mandated PLAs discriminate against nonunion contractors and workers, who comprise a record high 88.3% of the U.S. private construction industry workforce.