Issues Affecting the Construction Industry




2017 ABC National Chair Chuck Goodrich’s op-ed calling on Congress to pass the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1552/S. 622) was published in The Hill on April 10, 2017. This ABC-priority legislation would allow America's entire construction workforce—including the 86 percent of the private construction workforce that has chosen not to join a labor union—to compete on a level playing field by ensuring that taxpayer-funded construction cannot be subjected to costly and discriminatory government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs).

“Gaylor Electric’s 1,100 skilled employees and their families benefit from opportunities provided by fair and open competition on public works projects,” wrote Goodrich. “However, the government undermines our ability to fairly compete for contracts subject to government-mandated PLAs because it forces us to hire unfamiliar workers instead of the key ingredient that makes our company a safe and efficient industry leader.”

The bill, introduced by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and would ensure that PLAs cannot be mandated in order to perform federal or federally-assisted construction projects. It was reported favorably out of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee March 28. It currently has 35 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and two in the U.S. Senate.

ABC is encouraging members to call on their representatives in Congress to co-sponsor the Fair and Open Competition Act. Members can voice their support through the ABC Action Center or through the ABC Action app on iPhone and Android devices.


On January 25 the Morris County Freeholder Board met to discuss and vote on a skilled worker resolution.  In its original form, this toxic resolution would have stifled competition and boxed out merit shop contractors from bidding certain work at the county.

Thank you to all the ABC Members who emailed and called the Morris County Freeholder Board over the last several weeks expressing to them how damaging their proposed apprenticeship mandate would be on fair and open competition and the merit shop.  All that pressure, along with the efforts of some other grassroots organizations, lead to a new resolution that included language which would still allow all qualified contractors to bid on county work, all while strengthening some safety standards and legal workforce requirements the board felt was necessary.

During the vote, Freeholder Deborah Smith specifically mentioned and credited Associated Builders and Contractors for our support and education about New Jersey's merit shop and the impact this would have on our members.  If you would like more information about the details of the Morris Skilled Worker Resolution please reach out. Click Here for Coverage of the Freeholder Meeting.


PLA Victory in New Jersey

ABC-NJ was a vocal opponent of S-2425, a bill that expanded New Jersey's current PLA law on wastewater and highway projects; and the Association played a key role in the bill's defeat. On Monday, April 15, 2013, Governor Chris Christie "absolute vetoed" S-2425 the bill that would have revised the definition of "public works projects" to increase permitted project labor agreements. The bill will not be turned into law, and these new projects will continue to be awarded to the best suited professionals regardless of labor affiliation. Here is part of the coverage on the bill from the Governor's website:

"Finally, Governor Christie vetoed S-2425 because it could negatively impact efforts to rebuild and recover from Superstorm Sandy. Under current New Jersey law, project labor agreements are only permitted in public works contracts for the construction, reconstruction, demolition, or renovation of buildings at the public's expense. This proposal revises current law to authorize these agreements in other public works projects, and would significantly alter public contracting in this State at a time when the reconstruction, rebuilding, and redevelopment of public infrastructure is a priority."

(including a statement from bill sponsor and Ironworkers
Union boss, Sen. Majority Leader Sweeney)


The Truth About PLAs
 (external website)

Project labor agreements (PLA) are special interest schemes that discourage competition from nonunion contractors and their workers by requiring a construction project to be awarded only to contractors and subcontractors that agree to recognize unions as the representatives of employees on that job; use the union hall to obtain workers; obey the union's restrictive apprenticeship and work rules; and contribute to union pension plans and other funds in which their nonunion employees will never benefit unless they join a union.

When a government entity requires a PLA on a construction project, they are essentially tilting the playing field in favor of contractors that agree to use organized labor. On government-funded or assisted projects, this means that the 86 percent of the construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union cannot compete on an equal basis for projects funded by their own tax dollars.

On government-funded or assisted projects, taxpayers deserve the best product for the best price. Numerous studies show that PLA mandates can increase construction costs by nearly 20 percent. With government deficits ballooning nationwide, government-mandated PLAs are a special interest handout that taxpayers simply can't afford.

Learn more about wasteful and discriminatory PLAs at

Department of Labor Reports on Project Labor Agreements

The NJ-ABC has received the first three yearly reports on PLA’s produced by the New Jersey Department of Labor. We had been unable to obtain these reports in the past. Follow the links below to see the reports, which make for interesting reads. Take special note of the cost-per-sf comparison for PLA and non-PLA projects in the 2007 Report (Table 5, Page 10).


ABC-NJ's Kirby Wu on PLA restrictions for Hurricane Sandy recovery


Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national trade association representing more than 21,000 members from more than 21,303 construction and industry-related firms. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 69 Chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work.