Associated Builders and Contractors and a coalition of 19 associations and organizations representing the construction industry and business community sent a letter to Congress on February 28, expressing support for the Fair and Open Competition Act and strong opposition to government-mandated project labor agreements.

“Co-sponsoring the Fair and Open Competition Act is critical in light of President Biden’s Feb. 4, 2022, Executive Order that requires PLAs on federal construction projects of $35 million or more,” the coalition wrote. “PLA mandates exacerbate the construction industry’s skilled labor shortage of 650,000 workers in 2022 by unfairly discouraging competition from quality nonunion contractors and their employees, who comprise 87.4% of the private U.S. construction industry workforce.”

The Biden administration is also “promoting PLAs on federally assisted projects procured by state and local governments competing for federal dollars authorized and funded through bipartisan legislation—like the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act of 2021 and other bills—that do not require or encourage the use of PLAs on taxpayer-funded construction projects,” the coalition wrote. “Your opposition to President Biden’s pro-PLA EO and any legislative and regulatory language promoting controversial government-mandated PLAs on spending bills, coupled with your support of the Fair and Open Competition Act, will create a level playing field in the procurement of government construction contracts, increase competition, help small businesses grow, decrease construction costs and spread the job-creating benefits of federal and federally funded contracts throughout the construction industry.

“PLA mandates are bad public policy because they increase construction costs by 12% to 20% because they effectively exclude the nearly 9 out of 10 U.S. construction workers who choose not to join a union from building taxpayer-funded construction projects,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “These controversial agreements hold a third of employees’ compensation for ransom unless they join a union, pay union fees and prop up struggling union pension plans. PLAs also create excessive cost burdens and risks for high-performing nonunion contractors, who built more than half of the federal government’s large-scale construction projects from FY2009 to FY2021 and are more likely to be small, women- and/or minority-owned businesses.”