Yesterday CBS Philly reported that Mayor Nutter signed Executive Order 15-11 once again making project labor agreements a reality on City owned public works projects in excess of $5 million, which would require all contractors bidding on City projects to hire workers out of a local union hiring hall and abide by onerous, restrictive, and expensive union work rules. The article states that Mayor and Organized Labor believe the new PLA agreement is a win-win for everyone. If by everyone, you mean everyone but Philadelphia taxpayers and men and women working in the construction industry.
Why is this a lose-lose for everyone but the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council?
First, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Labor Statistics states that over 80% of Pennsylvanians working in the construction industry elect NOT to join a union. Therefore, an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania’s will be excluded from gainful employment in an industry that has an unemployment rate 10% higher than the national average (about 17% of construction workers are unemployed).
Second, studies indicate that union construction costs 10-20% more than the non-union equivalent. Moreover, there is no evidence that the work union labor will perform is somehow superior to non-union labor and, therefore, deserving of the cost premium. At a time when Philadelphia is at best cash strapped and at worse teetering on bankruptcy, is selecting the unnecessarily more expensive option fiscally sane and in the best interest of the already tapped out taxpayer?
Third, Mayor Nutter states that the PLA’s will insure diversity. For years, Mayor Nutter has criticized the local building trades and their lilly white membership. How exactly have they become more diverse in the last few years? In many minority communities in Philadelphia, unemployment is a staggering 30%. Philadelphia’s new PLA order will do nothing to dent that number.
Philadelphia’s new PLA ordinance is another set back for Philadelphia’s long forgotten taxpayer. The only ones that should be cheering this order are Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council.