Press-Republican

In My Opinion

May 16, 2012

In My Opinion: Project labor agreements defended

As president of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council, representing more than 200,000 unionized construction workers, I must respond to Stephen Lefebvre's editorial about Crown Point Bridge project.

Mr. Lefebvre referred to Flatiron's decision to utilize a project labor agreement, which Mr. Lefebvre claims to have forced non-union "employees (to stay) home, unable to work because of exclusionary union membership requirements."

I would like to make a few clarifications.

First, project labor agreements can be negotiated before a project goes out to bid or after a contract has been awarded. A pre-bid agreement for a public works project is an agreement entered into by the government. Because the government is a party to the agreement, it must be consistent with the state's competitive bidding laws.

A feasibility study is required, and absent a projected cost savings, use of a project labor agreement is precluded. If the study identifies a cost-savings advantage, implementation of the project labor agreement saves taxpayers' money.

The Crown Point Bridge agreement was negotiated by the low bidder, Flatiron, after being awarded the contract, and the state was not a party to the agreement.

Flatiron's private business decision to implement a project labor agreement post-bid underscores that such agreements provide certain benefits not otherwise guaranteed. For example, under a project labor agreement, every trade agrees to standardized hours, rules and holidays, assuring continuity and stability on large, complex jobs.

Project labor agreements also can reduce workers compensation premiums through the use of alternate dispute resolution. Most importantly, a project labor agreement ensures a skilled workforce capable of producing an on-time quality project. Whether the workers are union or non-union, they all must meet minimum training and experience requirements before working on the project. Finally, a project labor agreement may promote the use of a local workforce, but it also provides unique opportunities for veterans, minorities and women eager to establish themselves in the construction trades.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
In My Opinion
  • In My Opinion: Spirit Airlines addressing complaint rate

    Articles were recently published highlighting that Spirit Airlines has the highest Department of Transportation customer complaint rate among U.S. airlines, writes Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza.

    April 22, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Integration should be future of health care

    For several years now, we have heard discussion about the effectiveness and efficiencies expected from the Affordable Care Act, writes Behavioral Health Services North CEO Craig Amoth.

    April 21, 2014

  • In My Opinion Follow Vt. lead on prescription drugs

    Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin recently called attention to a national crisis when he dedicated his entire State of the State message to address what he called Vermont's "full-blown heroin crisis," writes John Coppola of New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers Inc.

    March 12, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Rail companies must take action

    I write to commend emergency response officials in Essex County for taking a proactive approach to the increasing number of freight trains carrying crude oil through our communities on the Canadian Pacific line, as described in the Feb, 23 article, "Essex County developing disaster-response plans as rail traffic grows," writes Rep. Bill Owens.

    March 4, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Communal energy conservation urged

    Recently, several articles appeared in the Press-Republican about the City of Plattsburgh's electric rates and energy policies, writes SUNY Plattsburgh assistant professor Curt Gervich.

    March 3, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Support gave boost to broadcasting

    As many of you know, this is my 40th and final year of broadcasting Plattsburgh State Cardinal Hockey, writes WIRY broadcaster Ducky Drake.

    February 20, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Prison closures will increase danger

    In January, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision released its annual report on the state of New York's prisons, writes NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe.

    February 18, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Everyone must commit to end smoking

    Smoking-related illnesses will cause 5.6 million children alive today to die prematurely unless smoking rates drop, the latest Surgeon General's Report says, write no-smoking advocates Glenn Pareira and Kendra Gertsch.

    February 12, 2014

  • In My Opinion: The right approach to youth sports

    Another youth basketball season is upon us, writes Town of Ellenburg Youth Director Chris Brooks. Local counties do a great job of organizing these leagues for our children to be able to participate and learn skills at a young age.

    January 8, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Fair evacuation plan needs review

    A year has come and gone with another great professional job done by our Clinton County Fair management, putting on its best yet entertainment.

    January 7, 2014