Int. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

How Do I know I’m Getting the Best for My Construction Project?

Having the best available workforce and most reputable contractors on any project will aide in its success, guaranteeing that the contractor and labor meet this standard becomes the issue.  This is why the construction industry has seen a growing use of Responsible Contractor language & Project Labor Agreements on both public and large scale private projects. By law, the public bodies are required to use the lowest “responsible” contractor, in theory protecting the public’s interest.  Too often the word “responsible” is not adequately defined or enforced.  This allows for contractors with inadequate qualifications and poor performance standards, to gain awards of public construction projects.

Responsible Contractor

Responsible Contractor reforms can be implemented through either legislative action, i.e. ordinances & resolutions or executive action, i.e. policy directives & bidding specifications.  
The following are examples of qualification standards.

  1. All, business, trade and professional licenses, registration or certificates required by law
  2. All bonding and insurance required by applicable law or contract specifications
  3. An acceptable past performance record showing it has not been debarred or defaulted by any government agency and has not had its license revoked in the past three years
  4. A clean record on law compliance - no major violations of any laws relating to the contracting industry of $1000 or more
  5. An established grievance-arbitration system for craft employees to resolve potential labor disputes arising in connection with performance of the contract work
  6. A certified apprenticeship training program for craft workers
  7. All other technical qualifications, equipment, financial resources and personnel to successfully perform the project

Project Labor Agreement

A Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement. The terms of the agreement apply to all contractors and subcontractors who successfully bid on the project, and supersede any existing collective bargaining agreements. PLAs are used on both public and private projects, and their specific provisions may be tailored by the signatory parties to meet the needs of a particular project.  Just like the Responsible Contractor, PLA’s can be added as legislative and executive actions.
Benefits of Using A PLA.

  1. Provide uniform wages, benefits, overtime pay, hours, working conditions, and work rules
  2. Provide contractors with a reliable and uninterrupted-supply of qualified workers at predictable costs
  3. Ensure that a project will be completed on time and on budget
  4. Ensure no labor strife by prohibiting strikes and lockouts and including binding procedures to resolve labor disputes
  5. Make large projects easier to manage by placing unions under one contract, the PLA
  6. May include provisions for recruitment  and training programs for women, minorities &  veterans
  7. Reduces misclassification of workers and the related underpayment of payroll taxes, workers compensation, and other requirements
  8. Larger percentage of construction wages stay in state
  9. Improve worker safety by requiring contractors and workers to comply with project safety rules.

If you are interested in learning more about PLA’s and Responsible Contractor Language for your Municipality, Board of Education or private project please feel free to contact us.  We would be happy to discuss the benefits to your community and project and would be able to supply you with sample agreements and language that can be tailored to your needs.

IBEW Local 400

Read the letter written by Congressman Chris Smith on the importance of using PLAs on our military installations projects.