Wednesday, December 02, 2009

PLAs already tried - and rejected! - in Lucas County

As it turns out, project labor agreements (PLAs) have already been tried - and rejected - in Lucas County.

In September of 1996, the Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution requiring union contracts for all companies who received a bid for county work above $50,000 - whether they were unionized or not. I've requested a copy of the actual resolution and will share it with you when I receive it.

Apparently, according to an old Blade article (County May Restructure Policy on Construction Bids, April 28, 1997):

The policy was added by hand to the typed agenda prior to a public meeting Sept. 19, when it was adopted by the commissioners.

Even back then, there was an effort to keep this damaging and costly proposal under the radar. I guess nothing has been learned in the intervening years.

But it quickly became a problem when the commissioners rejected bids for new lights at the county recreation center - including the two lowest from non-union contractors.

Unlike today (so far), editors of the paper weighed in with an opinion on the matter:

“It’s a taxpayer-be-damned attitude, and Ms. Isenberg is acting as if she is above criticism.” ~ Lucas County (Toledo) Commissioner Sandy Isenberg and the rest of the County Commission taken to task in an editorial (Union collar a snug fit) for “quietly drafting a new policy” that would “help those who have helped [them] get elected.” (Toledo Blade, 11/25/96)

By April of 1997, the commissioners were rescinding that policy in favor of a 'best-bid' policy with terms agreed to by both opponents and proponents of the original requirements.

From a May 4, 1997, Blade article, (Isenberg Says County Board Mishandled Decision on Bids):

Lucas County commissioners should have acted differently in agreeing on a now-rescinded policy on awarding contracts for construction projects, Sandy Isenberg, president of the board of commissioners, said.

"Shame on us because we didn't bring all the people together up front," she said during a taping of The Editors television program. "And we should have done that, and after the fact we did."

So the question now is this: why are the Commissioners even considering a policy they've rejected in the past? The fact that the item is still on the agenda and has not been defeated is troublesome.

As I've previously documented, there is no logic or validity to the claims offered in support of PLAs. Instead, they raise the costs of all projects, eliminate opportunity for a majority of workers (since 83% of the private sector is non-unionized) and cannot ensure promises of better quality work. Besides, they're 'not business friendly' and what we need most in this area are more businesses.

If you haven't already done so, please contact the commissioners and tell them to stop deferring this resolution and just defeat it!

Pete Gerken:
Tina Skeldon Wozniak:
Ben Konop:
Phone number: 419-213-4500

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