Construction Official Urges Politicians to Avoid Holding Construction Workers “Hostage” Over Policy Disputes, Says Courts Will Strike Down Discriminatory Bans On Firms Doing Lawful Federal Work
The Associated General Contractors of America urged state and local officials in California to reject or repeal proposals to punish companies and their employees for working on border security projects on behalf of the United States government. Association officials also noted, in a letter to the state and local lawmakers, that the federal courts will strike down any such discriminatory and obstructive measures.
“While you are welcome to dispute the wisdom of federal border security policy and to express your views, you are not welcome to take our members hostage,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “As surely as you can count on the federal courts to strike down other unlawful forms of discrimination and obstruction, you should count of the courts to strike down measures to discriminate against firms doing lawful work on behalf of the U.S. government.”
The association sent the letter to the state and local lawmakers as the California state assembly considers a measure to ban the state employees’ retirement funds from investing in firms working on border security projects on behalf of the federal government. Officials in San Francisco are also considering a measure to ban those firms from working on city-funded projects. Lawmakers in Berkeley and Oakland passed similar measures last week.
The construction official added that the new “litmus tests” will increase the costs of doing business in any jurisdiction where they are enacted. Excluding construction employers and their workers will limit the number of companies competing for and performing work in that jurisdiction. With fewer firms competing for work, the cost of local construction projects is likely to rise, reducing the amount of infrastructure projects each locality can complete, Sandherr cautioned.
Enacting bans against firms performing lawful work for the federal government will also give other jurisdictions free rein to use their procurement systems to influence decision making in California and its municipalities, the construction official added. He noted that any jurisdiction that disagrees with any one of the public policies in places like San Francisco will feel less reticent to discriminate against firms working for that city.
Sandherr added that state and local politicians should not seek to punish employers and their workers because of federal policy disagreements. “The good men and women of the construction industry are entitled to pursue their livelihoods as fully and freely as anyone else, without being drawn into disputes that are not of their making; they are not pawns,” Sandherr said.