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Union official: 'PLAs aren't in the best interest of taxpayers'

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

This took guts.

A construction union official is publicly calling for the elimination of union-only project labor agreements. He says PLAs lead to corruption, and connects the dots for readers in the New York Post.

"When a PLA is in place, it grants a union leader the power to call all the shots and determine which locals get total and complete control of multibillion-dollar public and private construction projects. Those in charge decide what it’s going to cost in labor to get the job done. They become the ultimate power brokers, controlling numerous jobs and commanding the loyalty of countless beneficiaries down the line," writes Kevin Barry, director of the construction division of the United Service Workers Union in Queens, in a New York Post opinion column.

"We have long been taught that monopolies are harmful and drive up the cost of business while potentially sidelining the best and brightest workers. It’s time we acknowledge that such excessive powers granted by the government are abhorrent, leading directly to corruption.

"In a democracy, is it really government’s role to pick winners and losers among the labor force, as if by royal decree? President Theodore Roosevelt, the New York-bred trustbuster, would be turning over in his grave, if he witnessed these machinations. PLAs aren’t in the best interest of taxpayers — and it’s time to pull the plug on them."

It took courage for Mr. Barry to go against his union "brothers." PLAs are hurting his smaller union, just as they do merit shop construction companies.

In Mr. Barry's case, his union is shut out by the organized labor bosses who control the levers and hand jobs to other union locals. For merit shops, who are not party to union collective bargaining agreements, PLAs are unworkable because they require use of union members and not their own employees. Who would want a company to fire all of its loyal employees just to hire unknown union members?

We know from years of observation and academic study that PLAs increase costs by restricting competition. They amount of job discrimination by the public or private project owners who try to use them. And PLAs fail to achieve the goals that organized labor claims they will meet.

The MCA and United Service Workers might not see eye-to-eye on every issue, but this is one instance where we do agree. Kudo to Mr. Barry for having the courage to speak truth to power.



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