In response to the June 29 letter, “PLAs are ‘pay-to-play’ union shakedowns,” first, public project labor agreements do not require any contractor working on them to become signatory with any union. What they do require is that local individuals get the first chance to work on publicly funded projects.
And why shouldn’t they be given that opportunity? It is those individuals’ tax dollars funding these projects. Should we not give the people in our communities the first chance to earn a livable wage within their community? When they are given that chance, they reinvest the wages earned right back into the community by shopping locally, sending their children to our schools, and, in turn, creating more local area jobs.
Quoting a study done by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center: “The upshot of this case is that the PLAs in comparison to the non-PLAs attracted a similar number of bidders, came in at a slightly lower price point compared to the engineer’s estimate, and trained more young, local workers due to the social justice component of the PLAs.”
Project labor agreements are win-wins for everybody. Contractors receive a highly skilled and trained workforce, local people get the opportunity to earn a good wage, money is reinvested in the community, and projects are finished under budget and on time.
Unions provide great value to the public, contractors, and their members. Unions spend millions of dollars a year locally in training, ensuring the highest-skilled and most-valuable workforce in the area
Andrew R. Campeau
The writer is business manager for Local 11 Plumbers and Steamfitters in Duluth.
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