What is a Project Labor Agreement (PLA)? A PLA is a project management tool designed to ensure “on time, on budget” results for a given project through a streamlined labor relations policy. PLAs improve efficiency by coordinating the work of the multitude of subcontractors and craft workers engaged on a specific construction project. PLAs have been used for generations on successful public and private construction projects. These agreements help guarantee that our schools, roads, and bridges in Texas are built by safe, productive, and highly trained local workers. PLAs are designed to benefit everyone involved. • Union and nonunion workers benefit because their wages and benefits are defined and protected at local standards.
• Union and nonunion contractors benefit from the assurance of a level playing field and a guaranteed skilled workforce.
• Lenders and insurance companies benefit because, with skilled workers and protection from delays due to labor disputes, their investments are safer.
• Communities benefit because many PLAs provide recruiting, hiring and training for disadvantaged workers and local residents.
• But construction owners and taxpayers benefit the most, because PLAs help to ensure greater efficiencies on construction projects that involve many subcontractors and large numbers of craft workers from various trades. They ensure a steady flow of safe, productive and highly trained construction labor through nationwide referral systems; and they establish mechanisms for avoiding and resolving disputes. Public and private PLA construction projects are known for coming in on time and on budget.
Why Are PLAs Under Attack?
• Advocates of a “low road” business model for the construction industry understand PLAs expose that model’s weaknesses and shortcomings and threaten the viability of such a “low road” business model. The truth is, contractors that don’t like PLAs are the same contractors that seek to win bids by lowering their labor costs by assembling a low-wage, low-skill, easily exploitable workforce. PLAs eliminate this unfair competitive advantage. Why PLAs work: • Put simply, PLAs help to ensure greater project efficiencies while protecting workers’ wages and working conditions. PLAs ensure greater coordination among significant numbers of subcontractors and craft professionals through streamlined project management and the reliable supply of safe, productive and highly trained craft workers.
By harmonizing work rules and schedules, and through a formalized tripartite approach to project management involving the owner, the general contractor and labor, PLAs ensure greater project efficiency and productivity. All of this reduces costs.
PLAs help support a massive network of joint labor-management training and apprenticeship programs that enables workers to acquire the skills they need to satisfy the demands of owners and contractors in an increasingly complex and technical industry, while also ensuring those same workers receive pay and benefits commensurate with a solid and stable life in the American middle class.
PLAs have been used successfully for generations.
• PLAs have been used in the public and private sectors for nearly a century.
• PLAs first were used on the big public works projects of the 1930s. The Grand Coulee Dam, Hoover Dam, and Shasta Dam all were built using PLAs. Today, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Department of Energy, the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Los Angeles Unified School District are just some examples of public-sector owners that successfully use PLAs for construction projects because they promote efficient and quality construction.
• Driven primarily by cost efficiency, use of PLAs in the private sector has grown even more than on public projects. Leading Fortune 100 and 500 companies, including Toyota, Walt Disney, ConocoPhillips, Southern Company and the Freedom Tower project in New York City have used PLAs successfully. PLAs have been used in the public and private sect