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USGNN Original StoryIronworkers and Glaziers Favor the Use of Project Labor Agreements
May 13, 2009

Earlier this year President Obama signed an executive order requiring the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on all federal construction projects, stating: "Large-scale construction projects pose special challenges to efficient and timely procurement by the Federal Government. Construction employers typically do not have a permanent workforce, which makes it difficult for them to predict labor costs when bidding on contracts and to ensure a steady supply of labor on contracts being performed. Challenges also arise due to the fact that construction projects typically involve multiple employers at a single location. A labor dispute involving one employer can delay the entire project. A lack of coordination among various employers, or uncertainty about the terms and conditions of employment of various groups of workers, can create frictions and disputes in the absence of an agreed-upon resolution mechanism. These problems threaten the efficient and timely completion of construction projects undertaken by Federal contractors. On larger projects, which are generally more complex and of longer duration, these problems tend to be more pronounced."

Many curtainwall installers and glazing subcontractors are already familiar with PLAs. Now, with stimulus funds dedciated to federal construction projects, installers can likley expect to see them even more PLAs.

But PLAs are not just for federal jobs; some say they have also proven beneficial on many other types of jobs-especially large-scale, complex instalaltions. Several union organizations with focuses on curtainwall construction say they are in full support of the use of PLAs as they serve as effective construction management tools for quality construction.

"The use of PLAs on construction projects has successfully ensured work for ironworkers who are well-trained and capable of completing projects in a timely manner. Our proud union fully supports the use of PLAs and will continue to do our part with other building trades as we coordinate our work and fulfill our requirements based on these agreements," says Joseph Hunt, general president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers.

Eric Dean, general vice president with the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, heads up the group's ornamental architectural and miscellaneous metals efforts, which includes curtainwall construction.

"PLAs provide criteria for every contractor, builder, owner that assures the consistency of the project and it ensures uniformity to build the project on time and without labor disputes," says Dean. "It's a blueprint document on how labor contracts can help on these projects."

Likewise, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) also is in favor of PLAs.

"We feel the PLAs increase the efficiencies of projects and that they do not increase costs," says George Galis, IUPAT's general secretary-treasurer. "Our contractors report to us all the time that on hard-dollar bid projects, especially major curtainwall jobs, they are able to beat out non-union workers." Galis adds, "PLAs are not going to cost the end user or the tax payer any more money."

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