Signed, Sealed & Delivered
PLA Legislation is Officially Signed
by PAIGE TOWNLEY
“What excites me most about the passage of this bill is that it is true old school, back to the basics type of legislation for ABC,” said ABC of Alabama President Jay Reed. “This bill shows that our board of directors remain true to what the founding fathers set out for this association to accomplish. I can’t overemphasize enough the success we had regarding bipartisan support of this bill. Both sides of the aisle clearly understand that if construction does well, the state does well. There is just no room for state agencies to favor what is now less than 10 percent of the labor force in our industry.”
ABC of Alabama realized a major victory this legislative session with the passage of SB161/HB195, landmark legislation that bans government entities within the state from requiring contractors to sign a project labor agreement (PLA) or any other agreement with labor unions as a condition of performing work on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Now, fair and open competition is ensured on public works construction projects by both union and non-union contractors alike.
“What excites me most about the passage of this bill is that it is true old school, back to the basics type of legislation for ABC,” said ABC of Alabama president Jay Reed. “This bill shows that our board of directors remain true to what the founding fathers set out for this association to accomplish. I can’t overemphasize enough the success we had regarding bipartisan support of this bill. Both sides of the aisle clearly understand that if construction does well, the state does well. There is just no room for state agencies to favor what is now less than 10 percent of the labor force in our industry.”
Added ABC of Alabama’s Legislative Co-Chairman Mark Mattox, ‘Governor Bentley and others are working diligently to attract businesses to Alabama and promote economic growth in our state. We are pleased that the state is committed to awarding projects with fair and open competition between union and non-union companies. This commitment will help support these recruiting efforts and provide comfort to the business community that we are serious about protecting the rights of an employer while being fair to our employees. In short, businesses can protect their employees without government intervention, and this bill inks that into the state constitution.”
Governor Robert Bentley officially signed the association’s priority PLA legislation, now known as Act #2014-107, into law on March 3. With the governor’s signature, a loud and clear economic message was sent out not only across Alabama, but also across United States and the world, Reed said. “Businesses looking to come to Alabama can be assured that our state does not have an appetite for favoring union labor over open shop. That’s what this bill clearly demonstrates.”
Added ABC National Chairman Dan Brodbeck, “I am happy to see that Alabama has taken the right step to ensure equality for all workers in the state. By passing this legislation, the cost of projects that might have been subject to the PLA in the past will now be coming in 15 to 18 percent lower, thus, saving taxpayers money.”
Dozens of states across the country have enacted similar legislation in the last few years to protect against Executive Order 13502, which President Obama issued in 2009, that encourages federal agencies to require PLAs on projects costing more than $25 million. The order left the door open for potential PLA mandates on both federal projects costing less than $25 million and federally-assisted construction. If PLAs were to be mandated on public construction projects in Alabama, it would make it nearly impossible for more than 90 percent of the state’s construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union to compete for projects funded by their own tax dollars.
Now, as South Dakota also just recently passed a similar bill that ensures government neutrality on taxpayer-funded construction projects, Alabama joins a total of 19 other states that have adopted PLA reform. “There’s no question that ABC of Alabama has flexed its muscles and shown its members that it can effectively advocate on their behalf, which is a great thing,” said Andy Conlin, ABC National’s senior manager for state and local affairs. “This legislation sends a strong signal to taxpayers and the construction community that, in Alabama, taxpayers deserve the best construction at the best price. This new statute will certainly help them accomplish that.”
ABC National is hoping that the total number of states to pass PLA legislation will continue to increase before the year is over. “We’re hoping Mississippi will adopt a similar law this year as well,” Conlin said. “Regardless, the 20 states that have already adopted this type of statute send a strong signal to the Obama administration that taxpayers don’t want PLAs. They don’t want union handouts. They want value for their construction dollars.”