Two governors ban union-only PLAs

The governors of Arkansas and Minnesota have signed executive orders in the past four months requiring their states to award construction contracts without regard to contractors’ union or non-union status.

In order to “preserve competition on state construction contracts,” the Minnesota order declares the state and its agencies and representatives will neither require construction contractors to sign, nor prohibit them from signing a union agreement as a condition of working on government construction projects.

Similar to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s order, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s order also requires neutrality toward contractors’ union status.

“The overwhelming majority of the nation’s construction workforce, approximately 85 percent, have chosen not to belong to a union,” said Gary Roden, national chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors. “Often, firms with these employees offer the most affordable and highest quality project bids, but have been discouraged from bidding because of discriminatory union agreements.”

Brian McClung, a spokesman for the Minnesota governor’s office, said most states do not have project labor agreements that require union-only construction workers. “This executive order essentially codifies what has been the state’s practice under our administration,” he said. “It simply clarifies that PLAs cannot be required.”

Roden said taxpayers funding public projects are not getting the most for their money anytime there’s a union-only PLA attached to a construction project.

Pawlenty’s order was prompted by a desire to ensure a level playing field for businesses that bid on state construction projects, McClung said. “We want to be open and inclusive so that taxpayers receive the best possible quality and value for the tax dollars we spend.”