Construction coalition counters project labor agreement scheme

The Associated Builders and Contractors, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, and 13 other industry organizations—collectively representing tens of thousands of companies and millions of employees—oppose a recent White House move to require government-mandated project labor agreements (PLA) on federal or federally assisted construction contracts.

“We applaud the administration’s leadership to improve and build new roads, bridges, schools, affordable housing and communications, water, energy and transportation systems in urgent need of public and private investment,” the coalition writes in a letter to the White House. “However, Executive Order 14063, which requires PLAs on federal construction contracts exceeding $35 million, and other policies encouraging PLAs on federally assisted projects via grant programs administered by federal agencies for state and local governments, will undermine taxpayer investment in public works projects financed by the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act of 2021 and additional bipartisan legislation passed by Congress and signed into law free from language requiring or encouraging the use of PLAs.”

“The flawed rationale justifying pro-PLA policies ignores marketplace realities and broad opposition to government-mandated PLAs within the construction industry. Hardworking taxpayers are getting less and paying more when PLAs are encouraged or mandated by the government on federal and federally assisted construction projects,” the coalition contends. “In addition, PLA requirements will exacerbate the construction industry’s skilled labor shortage of nearly 500,000 workers, reduce competition from experienced contractors and undermine the administration’s ability to meet its infrastructure, affordable housing and clean energy agenda without strong participation from businesses and construction workers directly harmed by anti-competitive and costly pro-PLA policies.”


Separate from its action countering the White House advocacy of union-friendly procurement, ABC responded to a related memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Departments of Labor and Transportation advancing workforce policy initiatives on DOT-funded infrastructure projects, including PLA.

“Project labor agreements will exclude 87.4 percent of America’s construction workforce from competing for and building infrastructure projects funded by the Department of Transportation, increasing construction costs by 12 percent to 20 percent and undermining taxpayer investments in public works projects,” says ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “PLAs and other exclusionary policies in this memorandum of understanding will exacerbate the construction industry’s workforce shortage of 650,000 this year. If the administration is serious about creating opportunities for a diverse and local construction workforce, it should abandon PLA schemes, which disproportionately exclude nonunion local, minority-, veteran- and women-owned businesses from bidding on and building public works projects.” 

Beyond its responses to initial White House measures on PLAs and DOT procurement, ABC joined 18 construction industry and business community organizations in a letter to Congress, supporting the Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 403/H.R. 1284), which would restrict government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted construction projects.

Concurrently, Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) led a group of 42 Senate Republicans in sending a letter to the White House opposing Executive Order 14063, noting that “a fair and open bidding process for federal construction projects would guarantee the best value for hardworking taxpayers located across the United States.”