U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and First District Congressman Frank Guinta (R-NH) announced today that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has indicated that it is withdrawing the controversial Project Labor Agreement (PLA) requirement for the Manchester Job Corps Center. The PLA mandate has delayed construction of the proposed facility for more than two years.
An Executive Order issued in 2009 by President Obama encourages federal agencies to consider requiring the use of PLAs on large-scale construction projects. Senator Ayotte wrote to the president in February in opposition to the PLA mandate, conveying her concerns that the directive favors out-of-state unionized contractors, rather than New Hampshire companies that employ Granite State workers. At a Commerce Committee hearing in April, Senator Ayotte questioned Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates about the PLA requirement - expressing her understanding that only three companies bid on the work, all from out of state. Senator Ayotte also raised concerns about the PLA last summer, noting that a PLA has the potential to drive up the overall cost of construction.
"This is a New Hampshire project, and local contractors should be able to compete for it on a level playing field," said Senator Ayotte. "I hope the Labor Department will move quickly to reissue the solicitation without a PLA."
"PLAs bloat the cost of government construction projects, sticking taxpayers with a bigger bill," Congressman Guinta said. "They funnel tax dollars into union pockets and quash a level playing field, which is a requirement for free enterprise to succeed. Banning PLAs not only makes good financial sense, but also protects competition in the workplace."
Congressman Guinta has led the fight in the House against oppressive labor regulations that are killing New Hampshire jobs. He introduced an amendment to one of the very first pieces of legislation this Congress considered, which would have prohibited federal dollars from going to projects requiring a PLA. He has subsequently voted in favor of this same principle in other appropriations bills, and continues fighting for a fair working environment.
The Department of Labor included a PLA requirement when it reissued the solicitation for the Manchester Job Corps Center in January. Subsequently, in March, DOL announced that a bid protest against the PLA mandate had been filed with the Government Accountability Office. In November 2009, DOL canceled its original solicitation after a New Hampshire contractor challenged the PLA requirement.