ABC Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter Opposes the Use of Project Labor Agreements

ABC Eastern Pennsylvania commends Commissioner Joe Gale for bringing the issue of a Project Labor Agreement to the surface.

According to commissioner Gale, high ranking political figures have issued letters to the commissioners urging them to consider the use of a Project Labor Agreement on this upcoming project.

“Historically, Project Labor Agreements and Responsible Contractor Ordinances have been promoted to increase safety and job efficiency. They, in fact limit competition and push participation in the bid process to a small portion of the overall labor force. If you Google “Colonial School District RCO” you will see how political maneuvering was used to in an attempt to limit competition under guise of wanting safety construction requirements. Coincidentally, the authors of the above-mentioned letters to the commissioners attended Colonial School Board meetings promoting the use of Responsible Contractor Ordinances. It is also no surprise the same legislators are promoting a PLA on this project.”

“The bottom line, if you want a so called “Project Labor Agreement” on the Courthouse Project– you are not protecting the taxpayers of Montgomery County, nor are you operating with common sense. The commissioners should challenge the entire local construction industry to present the most efficient, cost effective project plan that is delivered safely, on time and hopefully under budget. “said Joe Perpiglia, President & CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter.

Perpiglia added “I expect at some point; local signatory labor will begin supporting the use of a Project Labor Agreement for this project. A typical project labor agreement would be written with requirements that restrict fully qualified non-signatory companies from winning and/or performing work. When you control how the PLA is written, as the signatory labor has historically done, then of course you want one, so your members get more work. Simple,

understandable, but not the best solution for the taxpayers.”

A typical Project Labor Agreement will not bring the result that is needed for Montgomery County. Taxpayers, as the owners of publicly funded construction projects, deserve the best possible product at the best possible price. Numerous studies show that PLA mandates can increase construction costs between 12 and 18 percent.

Here are some historical facts about Project Labor Agreements:

  • PLAs drive up costs
  • PLAs drive up costs by discouraging non-signatory contractors from bidding on public projects.
  • PLAs force contractors to use archaic and inefficient work rules, which drive up costs.
  • PLAs require non-signatory contractors to pay their workers’ health and retirement benefits to union benefit and pension funds, in addition to the existing plans they may already pay into.
  • PLAs are anti-competitive
  • PLAs are special interest carve-outs designed to increase signatory labor membership and funnel work to favored signatory contractors.
  • By requiring a contractor and/or subcontractor to recognize signatory workers as the representatives of their employees, PLAs discriminate against the nearly 80% of the Pennsylvania construction workforce who choose not to be signatory.
  • PLAs discriminate against women- and minority-owned construction businesses and their workers, who traditionally have been underrepresented in unions, mainly due to artificial and societal barriers in union membership and union apprenticeship and training programs.
  • PLAs harm local workers
  • PLAs discourage qualified local non-signatory construction workers from working on projects in their own communities and paid for by their own tax dollars.
  • Nearly all PLAs require contractors to get most or all of their workers from union hiring halls, where non-local union workers are placed on jobs before local nonunion workers.
  • For the few non-signatory employees permitted to work on a PLA jobsite, they never see any of the benefits from contributions made to signatory pension and benefit plans by their employer unless they decide to become signatory and remain with the union until vested.
  • PLAs are a windfall for the unions but not for the non-signatory worker.
  • PLAs require firms to obtain apprentices exclusively from union apprenticeship programs.
  • Participants in federal and state-approved nonunion apprenticeship programs cannot work on a job covered by a PLA and are excluded from work in their hometowns.

The County Commissioners need a partner who will assemble the best team to complete this project regardless of political or labor affiliation.

Associated Builders and Contractors of Eastern Pennsylvania assemble teams like this every day and we look forward to working with the County Commissioners in the future.

News & Resources


  • ABC East Norriton Office
  • ABC Allentown Office & Training Center
  • ABC Philadelphia Office & Training Center
  • ABC Hazelton Office