This week, SWACCA concluded weeks of work to ensure the submission of three distinct comment letters in support of the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council’s proposed rule entitled, “Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects” to implement President Biden’s February Executive Order creating a presumption that PLAs are to be used by federal agencies for large-scale construction projects for which the cost is estimated to be $35 million or more, subject to specified exemptions.
First, SWACCA submitted its own comments in support of the PLA proposed rule and the Executive Order it implements. SWACCA’s letter highlighted how PLAs provide structure and stability to large-scale construction projects and also help to prevent the misclassification of construction workers as independent contractors and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding contractors, like SWACCA members. The letter also emphasizes that, contrary to arguments from other industry groups, PLAs do not discourage or prevent any contractors from bidding on projects.
Second, SWACCA made a significant contribution to the joint comment letter submitted by the Construction Employers of America supporting the proposed rule and urging specific clarifications to the exceptions agencies can use to justify not using a PLA on large-scale projects covered by the Executive Order. These comments support the determination underlying the Executive Order and the proposed rule that PLAs promote economy and efficiency, noting that this determination has been maintained across the last three consecutive Administrations. The comments also detail how PLAs curtail worker misclassification and advance equitable development of a future skilled workforce by supporting privately funded, joint apprenticeship training programs.
Finally, SWACCA jointly sponsored with other CEA members an independent academic analysis of literature on PLAs by the Institute for Construction Economics Research. In this analysis, ICERES reviews existing peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed studies on the economic effects of PLAs, noting significant flaws in the methodology underlying the small number of reports that opponents of PLAs and the proposed rule cite when asserting that PLAs drive up costs and markedly reduce the number of contractors bidding on a project. The analysis makes clear that studies without these underlying methodological flaws belie arguments that PLAs increase costs or reduce qualified bids.