Yes Virginia: Sound policies equate to top Merit Shop score

Associated Builders and Contractors’ annual “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard,” takes stock of state policies that influence the success or failure of a free enterprise-based environment for construction companies. It highlights states where merit shop contractors are well-positioned to succeed and calls attention to states where strategic improvements need to be made based on their prevailing wage and project labor agreement (PLA) mandate policies; Right to Work status; commitment to developing a well-trained workforce; career and technical education opportunities; and, use of public-private partnerships (P3s).

MAP: Associated Builders & Contractors

The Merit Shop Scorecard was developed with input from ABC chapters and industry stakeholders across the country. State rankings, score criteria and definitions, plus construction unemployment rate estimates are posted at

Against the prior year, the 2017 scorecard features changes at the top of the rankings and major progress for a handful of states. Virginia moved up a spot to number one, Arkansas went from 20 to second place and Arizona remained in the top tier, landing at number three. Arkansas’ leap can be attributed to its full repeal of prevailing wage to accompany existing PLA and Right to Work policies, plus perfect marks in other graded criteria. Wisconsin continues its steady climb, moving up 10 spots over the past two years thanks to a repeal of its prevailing wage law; passing ABC-modeled PLA neutrality legislation; and, continued Right to Work policy progress. Kentucky moved from 32 to 21 in one year after enacting Right to Work and repealing prevailing wage laws.

Conversely, Illinois, Washington and New York rank as the three worst environments on the 2017 Merit Shop Scorecard. Each received an “F” for PLA and prevailing wage mandate policies and failure to adopt Right to Work laws, plus poor marks for workforce development incentive programs.

“ABC is committed to promoting free enterprise-based policies that will improve business climates and ensure a level playing field for all contractors,” says Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “We believe the Merit Shop Scorecard can help promote policies that will attract additional business investment and benefit state economies as a whole by providing valuable information for policymakers, contractors, construction users and other industry stakeholders while focusing on specific areas where strategic improvements can be made.”

The merit shop philosophy is the belief that people and companies succeed based on free enterprise principles within the free market system, which is characterized by open and fair competition and diverse participants, ABC contends. Those who adhere to the philosophy believe employees and employers have the right to determine wages and working conditions through either individual or collective bargaining, as they choose, within the boundaries of the law.