On Feb. 4, President Joe Biden issued an executive order mandating project labor agreements on federal construction projects that cost more than $35 million.
This is a wasteful exercise as project labor agreements often result in increased costs to taxpayers, reduced opportunities for qualified Ohio contractors and skilled tradespeople, and worsen the construction industry’s worker shortage.
Project labor agreements steer taxpayer-funded public works contracts to union-signatory contractors, granting unions a monopoly to build these projects.
A 2017 report by The Beacon Hill Institute on Ohio school construction demonstrates how these agreements can increase the cost of public works projects by 13%, though other published studies suggest that across the country, project labor agreements may cause taxpayer-funded project costs to increase by as much as 20%.
These cost hikes result, in part, because of reduced competition. In Ohio, the 85% of Ohio’s construction workforce that chooses not to be in a union would be excluded from working on these jobs.
The administration would best serve taxpayers by adopting inclusive policies that welcome all of America’s construction industry to realize the potential of the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
We cannot effectively rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, increase accountability, and reduce waste with anti-competitive and costly project labor agreements.
Barton Hacker, President, Associated Builders and Contractors, Central Ohio Chapter