Braintree 
Wasting Million$

on New School Construction

Stopped from
^

Court Blocks Braintree's Costly Ban
on Merit Shop Contractors 

A Norfolk County Superior Court has ordered Braintree to redo the bidding process on the South Middle School to allow all qualified bidders to fairly compete.

Braintree officials imposed a Project Labor Agreement on the project, which requires using union workers. A PLA would force merit shops to abandon their employees, who are not union members, and use unknown union workers. This has the intended effect of blocking merit shops from competing with union shops, which violates the state bidding laws.

"The disadvantages imposed on the contractor Plaintiffs by Braintree's use of the PLA effectively render those Plaintiffs unable to compete for work on the South Middle School project. Therefore Plaintiffs have established irreparable harm."

- Norfolk Superior Court Judge Paul D. Wilson, in a Sept. 10, 2021 ruling, in granting a preliminary injunction to block the Town of Braintree from imposing a union-only provision and ordering a rebid without a PLA. 

The Supreme Judicial Court has branded PLAs “anti-competitive” and ruled they are not justified “in all or even most circumstances.” (John T. Callahan & Sons, Inc., v. City of Malden, 430 Mass. 124 [1999].)  Further, the SJC ruled that “… the building of a single school will not in and of itself, justify the use of a PLA.” 

 

“A PLA will not be upheld unless (1) a project is of such size, duration, timing, and complexity that the goals of the competitive bidding statute cannot otherwise be achieved and (2) the record demonstrates that the awarding authority undertook a careful, reasoned process to conclude that the adoption of a PLA furthered the statutory goals.”

Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros and the School Building Committee imposed a project labor agreement (PLA) on the building of the new South Middle School.  Judge Wilson ruled the town failed to meet the high court's Callahan test:

"I conclude that the discussion described in the [Braintree School Building Committee] minutes is not the 'careful, reasoned process to conclude that the adoption of a PLA furthered the statutory goals' required by Callahan."

 

* * *

"[T]he PLA here would apply to only the construction of one school. Although Callahan was careful 'not [to] articulate a bright-line, litmus-test standard for determining when the use of a PLA is appropriate,' ... the court did note, 'In most circumstances, the building of a single school will not, in and of itself, justify the use of a PLA.'"

PLAs are 'Anti-Competitive,' says Mass. High Court

 Scales of Justice

Project Labor Agreement Adds Millions to Cost, Says Braintree's Consultants! 

$3M to $14M
Estimates vary,
but either way
it's millions more

Braintree’s construction consultant says the PLA will cost an extra $3 million. That is likely a low-ball figure, considering studies of PLA cost impacts.

Numerous independent studies of public construction performed with and without PLAs have shown costs increase between 10 to 20%.

 

A 2020 study of public school construction in Connecticut found “PLAs raise the final construction cost of building schools by 19.84 percent.”

PLAs create a monopoly for organized labor, lock out a majority of contractors and construction workers, and increases costs.  They offer no value to the project owner and only succeed in increasing construction costs.

PLAs Cost Millions.png

Tell Mayor Kokoros & town officials to follow the law & stop wasting taxpayer money

Mayor's Office
781-794-8100
mayorsoffice@braintreema.gov
Town Council
781-794-8152
towncouncil@braintreema.gov
School Building Committee
781-794-8031
espellman@braintreema.gov
School Committee
781-380-0130
schoolcommittee@braintreeschools.org
Braintree PLA Town Hall.jpg

What Is
a PLA?

A PLA requires use of union construction workers. That stops merit shop (nonunion) contractors from bidding and working, because they don’t want to fire their own employees and use unknown union workers.

PLAs are pushed by organized labor and its allies to create a monopoly for union contractors who then do not have to compete against merit shops.

PLAs deny nonunion workers opportunity. Yet, nonunion workers are 83.5% of the construction workforce in Massachusetts. (Source: unionstats.com)

Who OK'd
the PLA?

School Building Committee meeting minutes show Mayor Kokoros led the committee to approve the PLA with a short, one-sided discussion that failed to:

  1. Consider the cost of the PLA. The SBC voted on September 14, 2020, and the OPM delivered its cost overrun estimate on November 17, 2020.

  2. Hear alternative viewpoints or analysis.

  3. Analyze the publicly available information on the cost of PLAs.

When did this happen?

Mayor Kokoros won SBC approval for the PLA on September 14, 2020:

- 12 days before the Prop 2 1/2 override vote increasing property taxes to pay for the school.

- 2 months before Braintree's OPM, Hill International, estimated the additional cost of the PLA in the millions of dollars.

MCA has found no public record that the cost implications of a PLA were made known to voters prior to the override vote. 

PLAs Take the Competition Out of Competitive Bidding

Braintree PLA south middle school sign 2.jpg

Already, this project is in trouble.  The PLA will result in no electrical contractor to wire the school and a single bidder to install windows.  What will be the impact of this lack of competition?

No union electrical contractors were prequalified. Only merit shop electrical contractors were prequalified. Merit shops don't bid PLA jobs. Who will wire the school?

 

In the Metal Windows subcategory, only one union subcontractor was prequalified. That contractor will bid knowing the three merit shops in the category will not bid. 

"With more bidders, you tend to get a better price."

- former Fall River mayor after abandoning a PLA on a five-school project.

Who Is Paying for this Project?

Construction cost (estimated by OPM): $73.7M
Two funding sources:

  • State grant (from Mass. School Building Authority): $31M

  • Braintree taxpayers: $42.7M


The PLA discriminates against residents of Braintree and Massachusetts who are paying for the school with their tax dollars, but who have been told they are unwelcomed to work on the project because they are employed by merit shops.

Documents

The Merit Construction Alliance is providing these documents as a service to the people of Braintree.  The MCA obtained public records from the Town of Braintree related to construction of the South Middle School project. These documents are not publicly posted by the Town. MCA obtained them with a public records request that town officials fulfilled only after missing the statutory deadline.

Meeting Minutes

School Building Committee minutes of the 9/12/20 meeting where members unanimously approved a Project Labor Agreement without knowing the increased cost or hearing any opposing viewpoints.

Cost of PLA

Braintree's Owner's Project Manager puts the cost of a PLA at $3M as seen in this 11/17/20 email from the OPM to the mayor's chief of staff and the school superintendent.  MCA believes the OPM is underestimating the true cost. Numerous studies show PLAs add up to 20% to the cost of a school, meaning the cost of this PLA is about $14 million.  Either way, Braintree taxpayers would pay millions more than necessary.

PLA Draft

The draft Project Labor Agreement requires contractors to use workers sent by the union hiring hall instead of their own employees. This stops merit shop (non-union) firms from bidding because they are loyal to their own employees.  

All Documents

Town officials sent a single, 215-page PDF document containing the public records they claim filled the MCA's public records request.  Take a look and tell us what you think at info@mca-ma.com.

 Scales of Justice

PLAs are 'Anti-Competitive,' says Mass. High Court

The Supreme Judicial Court has branded PLAs “anti-competitive” and ruled they are not justified “in all or even most circumstances.” (John T. Callahan & Sons, Inc., v. City of Malden, 430 Mass. 124 [1999].)  Further, the SJC ruled that “… the building of a single school will not in and of itself, justify the use of a PLA.” 

 

“A PLA will not be upheld unless (1) a project is of such size, duration, timing, and complexity that the goals of the competitive bidding statute cannot otherwise be achieved and (2) the record demonstrates that the awarding authority undertook a careful, reasoned process to conclude that the adoption of a PLA furthered the statutory goals.”

 Scales of Justice

PLAs are 'Anti-Competitive,' says Mass. High Court

The Supreme Judicial Court has branded PLAs “anti-competitive” and ruled they are not justified “in all or even most circumstances.” (John T. Callahan & Sons, Inc., v. City of Malden, 430 Mass. 124 [1999].)  Further, the SJC ruled that “… the building of a single school will not in and of itself, justify the use of a PLA.” 

 

“A PLA will not be upheld unless (1) a project is of such size, duration, timing, and complexity that the goals of the competitive bidding statute cannot otherwise be achieved and (2) the record demonstrates that the awarding authority undertook a careful, reasoned process to conclude that the adoption of a PLA furthered the statutory goals.”