Thompson Draws Attention to President’s Executive Order Favoring Union Contracts Over Competitive Bidding

Jan 21, 2010

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Representative Glenn `GT’ Thompson, R-Howard, today took part in a forum that examined the “Culture of Favoritism” the Obama administration has shown toward labor unions.

Thompson is a member of the Education and Labor Committee.  The Committee Republicans put together the forum to examine actions taken and promises made by the Administration to reward special interests at the expense of American workers and our struggling economy.

On November 20, 2009, Committee Republicans wrote Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and requested that Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis testify before Congress on staggering unemployment rates, erroneous job data reported on the stimulus package, and the President’s agenda for addressing these issues. Since her confirmation in February 2009, Solis has not appeared before the Education and Labor Committee.
The minority Committee members have not received a response. Yet, unemployment remains in double digits.

Thompson had an opportunity to ask questions on project labor agreements (PLA) of witness Stephen Worth, president and chief executive officer of Worth and Company from Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  Also among the witnesses were former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao and Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine.

 “Recently there was a project for Rockview State Correctional Institution in Benner Township. The Pennsylvania Department of General Services opened the project for bids this past June, but made it subject to a project labor agreement,”(PLA) said Thompson.  “It turns out this PLA kept a few hundred firms in the region from bidding on the project and the bids ended up coming in so high General Services was forced to remove the PLA.  Proponents of these PLAs claim they do not bar merit shops from bidding on government contracts.  Do you believe merit shops are at a disadvantage?”

Worth responded:  “In my experience, the company could, technically bid on a project with a PLA, but that would cause us to not use our workers.  What makes Worth and Company so great is the people we employ.  Without them a contract would be unreasonable.  My thought is to let everyone compete on level ground; it’s fairer to the taxpayer.”

One of the first Executive Orders implemented by President Obama was the use of project labor agreement for federal construction projects.  On February 6, 2009, he authorized executive agencies of the federal government to require every contractor on a large-scale construction project to negotiate or become a party to a PLA on federal projects over $25 million.

“PLAs close the playing field in an attempt to support union only contracts.  There is nothing wrong with unions, but when you exclude the 80 percent of contractors that are not union shops and make it next to impossible for them to bid on a project, that’s discrimination and empowers politics over common sense policy,” said Thompson.

In this time of economic uncertainty and staggering unemployment the Administration continues to reward special interests over empowering commonsense and fairness.

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