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Boston Herald: Diversity Ownership Colliding with Organized Labor on PLA

A Boston Herald editorial points out that union-backing lawmakers often call for increased participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in public contracts. However, since those businesses are nearly all nonunion, their interests run counter to organized labor.

This tension is playing out in the battle over a proposed project labor agreement on the new Holyoke Soldiers Home, a provision that will lock out the majority of minority- and women-owned contractors who are state-certified to perform public construction.

The Herald writes:

"Politicians, particularly those in Massachusetts, have long been union supporters and have often joined rallies supporting union causes.

"But a new emphasis on job equity calls for increased participation of minority- and women-owned businesses, particularly when it comes to city and state contracts ...

"In his group’s testimony to lawmakers this month, Merit Construction Alliance President Jason Kauppi said PLAs discriminate against the vast majority of the construction workforce that operates outside of “the confines of organized labor.” The agreements effectively block minority- and women-owned companies from bidding and working on projects, he said, and make it more difficult for the state to reach its supplier diversity goals by “locking out” non-union shops.

"Pols face a dilemma: side with unions or put real muscle into the push for equity? ...

"Whether the union language stays or goes, the genie is out of the bottle — an emphasis on diversity ownership in awarding contracts is on a collision course with organized labor."

Read the full editorial here:



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