Governor Walker signs PLA Neutrality Bill

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker congratulated Associated Builders & Contractors for its work on Senate Bill 3, the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) Neutrality Bill, as he signed the free enterprise, open competition measure on Monday, April 17. A video of the event is available. 

"This ensures that contracts, going forward, and works being done on infrastructure and all public projects, are being done in a way that provides maximum value -- both quality and value -- for the taxpayers of this state," Walker said. "It's really pro-taxpayer, both statewide and by individual jurisdiction; cities, towns, villages and schools all over the state. It's about empowering the taxpayers to make sure they get the best deal possible," he added. 

The signing took place at AmeriLux International in De Pere, site of a major building expansion by ABC member Keller, Inc., Kaukauna. Steve Klessig of Keller, Inc. categorized this as a celebration. "When a blue state can sign legislation like this, we're setting an example for the rest of the country that we can make a difference," said the former ABC of Wisconsin chair. 

ABC of Wisconsin's current chair, Jay Zahn, said the difference happens when people work together. "This is what associations are all about. There were a lot of people involved in getting this done. Clearly, it takes a group and with numbers, you can get things accomplished," Zahn said. 

Act 3 prohibits governmental entities from entering into taxpayer-funded, union-only project labor agreements. This non-discrimination measure ensures all contractors -- and 8 in 10 workers who choose not to belong to organized labor unions -- will have a fair shot at performing work paid for by taxpayers. According to a series of academic studies, PLAs drive up the cost of construction between 12 and 18 percent.  PLA’s often limit competition by imposing undue regulations or circumstances that would put merit shop contractors at a disadvantage. For instance, a common provision is only hiring employees from the local union hall, paying into union pension funds when their employees may never receive a union pension benefit, recognizing unions as the representative of their employees on that job and obeying union apprenticeship and other work rules. With stipulations that would require contractors to maintain double the workforce and pay double the retirement benefits, most merit shop contractors decline to submit bids in these situations.

ABC of Wisconsin President John Mielke said it also takes commitment by legislators. "Wisconsin's merit shop construction community thanks Governor Walker, Senator Leah Vukmir, Representative Rob Hutton, the Legislature and its leadership for supporting common sense policy. As Governor Walker said today, it's a great day for Wisconsin taxpayers and open competition," Mielke said. 

For more, see the news release from Governor Walker or the news release from ABC National