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State-mandated labor agreements must be ended

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Sauk Valley Media regularly reports on issues important to our community’s workers. This Labor Day, I would like to highlight individuals whose work is on display every day: merit shop construction craft-professionals.

The vast majority of construction workers – 86.8 percent – choose not to belong to a labor organization. They have made the decision to put their professional craft skills to use in a merit shop, free enterprise environment.

However, the livelihood of these merit shop workers is under assault by politicians who reward labor unions with political favors by supporting government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs).

When government entities require a PLA on publicly-funded construction projects, they are essentially tilting the playing field in favor of contractors that agree to use organized labor. Meaning the majority of the construction workforce cannot compete on an equal basis for projects funded by their own tax dollars.  

In response to labor unions’ efforts to promote PLA mandates, state after state has stood up for the construction workforce by rejecting government-mandated PLAs. Since 2011, 14 states have banned government-mandated PLAs, bringing the total number of states to do so to 18.

But not Illinois. We continue to promote and encourage the use of these expensive, unnecessary mandates that cost the taxpayers millions of dollars each year; a “union tax.”

Let our state leaders know that it is time to put an end to these discriminatory government-mandated PLAs. This is the highest honor we can pay to all in the construction workforce this Labor Day.

Note to readers: Alicia Martin is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Illinois Chapter.

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