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Forcing Union Payments on Taxpayer-Funded Projects

PLAs are not successful at keeping a construction project on time or on budget. Most people have heard about Boston's "Big Dig," which was built with a union-only PLA. Though projected to cost $2.2 billion, this project ended up costing more than $14 billion. This is just one example.  In addition, union workers are permitted to strike, which can add additional costs to a construction projects Non-union firms don't strike.

The reason the unions need this PLA rule is to boost their membership. President Obama seems committed to helping unions increase their membership from the current low levels. He still hopes to take away the secret ballot from workers when voting on whether to unionize. That battle is yet to come, right after health care is decided.

The PLA Executive Order may soon become a reality.  The comment period on the order has been extended to September 23 by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council.  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.  Tens of thousands of men and women could be adversely impacted when this Executive Order goes into effect.  Here in Virginia it is clear that this new rule will hurt our economy.

Public policy simply should not favor unions in a way that discriminates against non-union workers.  A level playing field is always best for the country and for our state.


Michael Thompson is Chairman/President of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, Virginia's premier independent public policy foundation.  These views are his and do not necessarily reflect those the Institute or its Board of Directors.  He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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