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Phyllis Harden

Legislative & Special Projects, Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel
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AGC Testifies on Bill Requiring Level Field for Union and Open Shop Contractors in Federal Procurement

June 6, 2011
On June 3, AGC’s general counsel testified in Congress in support of H.R. 735, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act. The legislation provides that federal contracting agencies may neither require nor prohibit project labor agreements (PLAs).  It also forbids these agencies to discriminate against any contractor, or to give any preference to any contractor, because the contractor has either signed or refused to sign a PLA.  The bill largely mirrors the text of Pres. George W. Bush’s executive order prohibiting agencies from mandating PLAs and would nullify Pres. Obama’s executive order encouraging agency consideration of PLAs. Appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, intergovernmental Relations and Procurement, Michael Kennedy emphasized that “construction contractors are in the best position to determine whether, and if so, when a project labor agreement will help them meet the government’s legitimate interest in having its projects constructed on time, within budget and according to all specifications.”  For that reason, he continued, AGC supports legislation that would have the net effect of requiring federal contracting agencies to score all bids and proposals in one and the same way, without regard to whether they include or omit a PLA. Turning to President Obama’s executive order on the subject, which gives federal contracting agencies the option of mandating PLAs, Kennedy pointed out that such mandates have the effect of limiting competition for federal work.  He explained that PLAs typically require open shop contractors to change the way that they would otherwise approach an upcoming project, and may even require union contractors to change their approach. Kennedy also recommended a technical amendment to the bill to ensure that union contractors would not be inadvertently disadvantaged by language providing that exemptions to PLA restrictions may not be based on a labor dispute concerning open shop contractors. To access hearing documents and video, click here. For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org.
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