In Response: Don't overlook project labor agreements' worksite positives

From the column: "Project labor agreements are in place (to) ensure projects are done on time and right the first time."

Workers construct one of the main exterior facades at the new Miners Event and Convention Center on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Virginia. (Clint Austin /

Regarding the June 29 “Reader’s View” letter, headlined, “PLAs are ‘pay-to-play’ union shakedowns,” a number of us did have a conversation with the writer at the June 2 Cloquet City Council meeting, as the letter indicated. But in discussing project labor agreements none of us who are union supporters suggested taxpayers owe union members a job, as the letter also stated. Many projects the letter writer has worked on were PLA projects.

Maybe an informational article would be in order.

Project labor agreements are in place with lots of different types of entities. They ensure projects are done on time and right the first time, which is very cost efficient. They also make sure contractors use as much local workforce as possible. If taxes are of main concern, local folks spend money locally, right? What about folks from out of the state? Where is their money spent? Most often it goes to the community they live in and not to our local businesses.

Most contractors working under PLAs, both union and non-union, pay their employees a fair, living wage. PLAs also keep contractors from abusing 1099 subcontractors. PLAs allow both union and non-union bidders on projects, and they level the playing field while ensuring competitiveness. Many PLAs have inclusiveness language, making it mandatory that women and minority groups have the opportunity to work and earn a fair wage, too.

Many folks in the construction industry receive the necessary training to perform the daily tasks they need to in order to come home safe each day to their families. Most of this is provided by apprenticeship programs and the journeyperson upgrade training that unions offer.


The list of positive items PLAs cover goes on further than this. But shedding a light on the positives of PLAs needs to be brought into the open.

Instead of being close-minded and suggesting PLAs should be illegal (which they are not), those who express sentiments like the ones in the June 29 letter should look at the good that PLAs bring and not dwell on something for which they personally have a distaste.

Jack Carlson of Saginaw is director of organizing for IUPAT DC 82, or International Union of Painter and Allied Trades District Council 82.

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