Mr. ISRAEL. Madam Chair, I rise today in strong opposition to section 517 of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. That is because it would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related construction agencies from using project labor agreements (PLA) when they determine that they would benefit from doing so. If an agency decides that it is in their best interest to enter into a PLA, they should be given the ability to make that call.
Project labor agreements increase efficiency and quality of construction projects and are an effective tool for ensuring that large and complex projects are completed on time. They provide construction contractors with access to a highly skilled and well trained workforce and ensure that contractors comply with equal employment rules and environmental standards. And, workers have found that it protects their safety and wages. For these reasons, PLAs have been used in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; on the local, state, and federal level; and in the public and private sector.
You might have even heard of the Tappan Zee Bridge, Fort Drum, Walt Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center--all were built with project labor agreements. And any attempt to restrict even the consideration of project labor agreements where they would promote economic efficiency is simply the height of anti-union tactics getting in the way of good government.
There is an Executive Order that encourages agencies to use project labor agreements if it finds that an agreement would promote economic efficiency. During this time of fiscal restraint when the government must tighten its belt, it does not make sense to prohibit use of a proven business model that increases efficiency and keeps costs down. That is why I support the use of project labor agreements and am opposed to this anti-labor provision.