On May 31, the House of Representatives agreed to remove language contained in an appropriations bill that would have restricted the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) in military construction contracts. The measure at issue, H.R. 5854, (pdf) is designed to make appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. The version of the bill approved by the Appropriations Committee had contained the following anti-PLA provision:
SEC. 517. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by any Government authority or agent thereof awarding a construction contract on behalf of the Government, in any solicitations, bid specifications, project agreements, or other controlling documents, to require or prohibit bidders, offerors, contractors, or subcontractors to enter into or adhere to agreements with one or more labor organizations; nor shall such funds be used to discriminate against or give preference to such bidders, offerors, contractors, or subcontractors based on their entering or refusing to enter into such agreements. The previous sentence does not apply to construction contracts awarded before the date of the enactment of this Act.
The House ultimately approved by a vote of 218-198 an amendment offered by Rep Michael Grimm (R-NY) that struck this provision. In his floor statement supporting the amendment, Rep. Grimm said:
construction is an inherently complex endeavor. Any owner funding a construction project faces a variety of challenges, such as time and cost constraints, maintaining quality control, safety, and of course recruiting a skilled workforce. . . . Project labor agreements are a proven tool to accomplish these objectives.
Executive Order (E.O) 13502: Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects, declares it the policy of the federal government “to encourage executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects . . .” This E.O. was issued on February 6, 2009, and final regulations implementing it were published in 2010.
On May 18, 2012, however, the House approved a PLA restriction in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013, a separate appropriations bill. The House’s decision to remove the anti-PLA language from the military construction/veterans appropriations bill makes it more likely that the final NDAA will also omit this provision.
Another section of the military construction/veterans appropriations bill (Section 514) – which would prohibit the use of funds provided in the bill for any contract for goods or services, including construction services, where the contractor has not complied with E-Verify requirements – remained intact.
The House overwhelmingly approved H.R. 5854 on May 31 by a vote of 407-12.
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