Associated Builders and Contractors today released the following statement in response to the publication of a proposed ruleFederal Acquisition Regulation: Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects, implementing President Biden’s Executive Order 14063, which requires federal construction contracts of $35 million or more to be subjected to controversial project labor agreements.

“The Biden administration continues to move forward with its steady drumbeat of burdensome, inflationary and anti-competitive policies that will needlessly raise costs on taxpayer-funded construction projects and steer contracts to unionized contractors and workers,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “The FAR Council’s proposed rule will hand over construction contracts to powerful special interests at the expense of hard-working taxpayers and the principles of free enterprise and fair and open competition in government contracting.

“When mandated by governments, PLAs increase construction costs to taxpayers by 12% to 20%, reduce opportunities for qualified contractors and their skilled craft professionals and exacerbate the construction industry’s worker shortage of 650,000,” said Brubeck. “ABC will continue to fight for quality, experienced contractors harmed by this proposal and the 87.4% of construction workers who have already made the choice not to belong to a union and want a fair opportunity to participate in local federal infrastructure projects––but cannot do so because of PLA schemes.

“ABC estimates this proposal­­­, once finalized, could impact 120 federal contracts valued at $10 billion, which is roughly 40% of the value of federal construction put in place on an annual basis,” said Brubeck. “In addition, ABC condemns Biden administration policies independent of this rulemaking that push PLAs on competitive grant programs administered by federal agencies affecting billions of dollars’ worth of federally assisted construction projects procured by state and local governments.

“ABC will continue to challenge these policies that favor special interests, educate stakeholders about the negative impact of PLAs on federal and federally assisted projects and urge stakeholders to submit comments in response to the proposed rule in late October, which is roughly 60 days from its publication in the Federal Register,” said Brubeck.

Timeline of the Opposition to President Biden’s Executive Order 14063

On Feb. 4, President Biden signed EO 14063 requiring federal construction contracts greater than $35 million to be subjected to PLAs. ABC blasted the EO, calling it anti-competitive for small businesses and costly for taxpayers.

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 concerns with the EO, saying that “the administration’s broad assertion that businesses not affiliated with unions are unable to deliver safe, on-time, on-budget government construction projects while obeying federal labor laws and paying high wages to employees is unfounded.”

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 and “curb waste and favoritism in the procurement of construction projects and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly by letting the market determine if a PLA is appropriate.”

On March 7, Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., led a group of 42 Senate Republicans in sending a letter to President Biden opposing the EO, 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.”

On March 8, 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.”

On April 6, ABC sent a letter to the White House with more than 1,200 signatures from members and chapters voicing strong opposition to President Biden’s pro-PLA EO because “hardworking taxpayers deserve more efficient and effective policies that will encourage all qualified contractors and their skilled workforce to compete to build long-lasting, quality projects at the best price.”

On April 26, 18 Republican governors, led by Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Bill Lee of Tennessee, sent a letter to the White House opposing the Biden administration’s policies promoting government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted taxpayer-funded construction projects because it “will undermine taxpayer investment in billions of dollars of forthcoming public works projects financed by the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act of 2021 and additional bipartisan legislation passed by Congress, all of which was signed into law free from language requiring or encouraging the use of PLAs.”

Visit the construction industry coalition website to learn more about government-mandated PLAs and urge lawmakers to support fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects.