JEFFERSON CITY – Two state legislators will again file legislation to put an end to project labor agreements (PLAs) and ensure a fair and competitive bidding process for public works projects in Missouri. State Rep. Rob Vescovo and State Sen. Bob Onder will each fill bills in their respective chambers that would ban PLAs, which ensure public works contracts are almost exclusively awarded to unionized contractors.
Onder and Vescovo said it is time to make the bidding process for these important taxpayer-funded projects competitive and fair so that Missourians will get a better return on their tax dollars.
“With the current system we see contracts awarded to union labor with a price tag that is significantly higher than what would be paid for non-union labor. When you exclude the majority of your construction work force from the bidding process, which is what PLAs do, it’s impossible to say it’s a fair and competitive system that makes good use of our tax dollars,” said Vescovo, R-Arnold, who noted that only 13.2 percent of the private construction work force in the United States belongs to a union. Vescovo added, “The simple truth is that PLAs turn a blind eye to competent and capable workers who would do these jobs at an affordable price, and that’s something we need to change here in Missouri.”
“It’s impossible to have a fair and competitive process when you have such a large segment of the construction workforce who aren’t even considered for these projects despite the fact they would provide quality work at a far more affordable price,” said Onder, R-St. Charles County. “It’s time to end this sweetheart deal for unions and replace it with a system that emphasizes quality construction and cost efficiency. By giving all of the construction professionals a level playing field to bid on these projects we can give taxpayers the kind of results they deserve.”
Both Onder and Vescovo filed their legislation during the bill pre-filing period that began Thursday, Dec. 1. Each filed similar legislation during the 2016 legislative session, but neither bill was passed into law. Now with a new governor who will make labor reform a priority, Vescovo and Onder are optimistic they can put this much-needed change into effect this legislative session.