Adam Hanson claimed in a letter to the editor in the News Tribune that project labor agreements, or PLAs, are discriminatory, drive up costs, and provide no extra safety or quality assurances (Reader’s View: “Duluth offers Big Labor quid pro quo,” Aug. 4). Furthermore, Hanson, the director of government and public affairs for Associated Builders and Contractors of Minnesota and North Dakota, stated that “PLAs prohibit local workers and contractors who choose not to join a union from working on projects.”
He was sorely mistaken on all counts and perhaps needs to be reminded of the actual purpose and inherent value of a PLA.
PLAs are collective bargaining agreements that govern terms and conditions of employment for all skilled craft workers on a construction project, union and non-union alike. Along with prevailing wage laws, PLAs help to empower workers and check unscrupulous contractors who notoriously low-ball bids, fail to invest in training or benefits for their employees, and ignore safety standards.
Not only do PLAs protect workers on a job, they shield taxpayers in the surrounding community from unwieldy costs by ensuring the job is done right and finished on time.
PLAs are something that responsible contractors get behind. The egregious behavior in the construction industry stems from low-road contractors who disregard worker health and safety.
If the Associated Builders and Contractors views PLAs as discriminatory agreements, the group clearly supports a construction industry where nothing — not workers, taxpayers, nor industry standards — matters aside from contractor profits.
Little Canada, Minnesota
The writer is the business manager for International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 9.