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January 7, 2011

Project labour agreement (PLA) has been removed from U.S. bidding process after Associated Builders and Contractors protest

WASHINGTON, D.C.

A government-mandated project labour agreement (PLA) has been removed from the bidding process for the construction of a $50 million U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Research Office Building in Pittsburgh.

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) applauded the removal of the PLA as result of a bid protest filed Oct. 18, 2010, with the United States Government Accountability Office.

“PLAs are special interest schemes that force all bidders for construction projects to sign a labour agreement with construction unions as a condition of performing work,” said ABC president and CEO Kirk Pickerel. “This is the fourth successful bid protest that ABC has supported on behalf of one of its members against unlawful PLA schemes on federal construction projects. This case gives us the clearest indication yet that PLAs violate federal competitive bidding laws.”

ABC member company Bridges Construction of Pittsburgh, supported and assisted by ABC, filed a bid protest with the GAO. The protest challenged the VA’s PLA mandate that appeared in a September bid solicitation for the Research Office Building. The PLA requirement discriminated against qualified open shop contractors and their employees by imposing union dues requirements and inefficient and costly union work rules as a condition of performing work on the project. During the course of the GAO protest, the VA revealed that its own PLA impact study found imposing a PLA on the project would increase costs by millions of dollars, would reduce the number of bidders and subcontractors, and would decrease the pool of skilled labour.

Numerous studies show that PLAs discourage open shop contractors and subcontractors from competing for federal contracts, according to ABC.

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