Project labor agreements: Stop them now |

Project labor agreements: Stop them now

Allegheny County Council can boost the region’s economy by declaring that project labor agreements (PLAs) — which unfairly exclude nonunion bidders from public construction contracts — aren’t worth the trouble they cause for taxpayers and workers.

It can do so by passing Councilman Matt Drozd’s proposed PLA ban. The Ross Democrat’s bill had strong support at its introduction Tuesday from Associated Builders & Contractors of Western Pennsylvania. Representing the 85 percent of area construction workers who aren’t unionized, the group has lawsuits pending against Community College of Allegheny County and Penn Hills School District PLAs.

If elected officials didn’t reward union backers with PLAs, taxpayers wouldn’t bear the needless burdens of such litigation’s expenses and the additional project costs that studies show PLAs impose. The vast majority of construction workers would get a fair shake — and lower-cost, nonunion work would render moot the usual no-strike provisions that constitute unions’ main pro-PLA argument.

Allegheny County Council’s choice is clear. It can countenance future county projects shafting taxpayers and workers via more PLAs — or save them money and ensure them greater opportunity by ending the noxious practice.

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