Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements in Construction, The Institutional Facts and Issues and Key Litigation: Moving Toward Union Monopoly on Federal and State Financed Projects Northrup

The authors skillfully pull back the political, legal and legislative covers that have hidden the union's agenda to gain a monopoly of large construction projects financed by Federal, State and local governments. They show how unions are using project labor agreements (PLAs) and the courts to manipulate political and administrative processes, override government cost-saving measures, and prevent lower-cost open shop contractors from gaining public works contracts. The result: unions are able to secure for themselves massive contracts.

Unions have declined in membership since World War II, a trend that Northrup addresses in Section II. He also reveals two strategies unions are using to regain their power, influence and more money: infiltrating public sector employment; and using PLAs to gain public works projects, most of which are multi-million or multi-billion dollar projects.

In Sections III and IV, Northrup examines many aspects of project labor agreements: extent, impact, terms, conditions, local labor use, impact on prevailing wage legislation, and rationale for imposing. Throughout, he compares unions to open shops on issues such as safety, wages, benefits, ease of deployment, training, flexibility, local labor use, and ability to do the work even on the largest public works projects. In the final analysis, after exposing the fallacies of union arguments--including many accepted by courts and public officials, such as labor peace, local labor use, safety and non-delay of work--he shows that there is no good economic or sound public policy reason to give unions a monopoly of public works projects.

Alario collaborated with Northrup in Section V to examine numerous legal issues and court cases at the State and Federal levels, most of which have favored the union monopoly. Justices and judges may have made pro-union decisions because open shop contractors and their attorneys have not had or presented evidence such as that compiled by the authors in this article.

Section V closes with a discussion of President Bill Clinton's executive order agains "law breaking" companies that could further help unions secure a monopoly over government construction contracts. Don't forget to read Clinton's new definition of "satisfactory compliance"--an alarming reinvention of the phrase and the purpose of government regulations