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
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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