NECA Chief Executive Officer John Grau sent a letter to President Trump asking him to keep an Executive Order in place that will protect NECA companies and employees once an infrastructure plan is in place. The letter touches on the use of a Project Labor Agreement for large federal contracts, along with the use of skilled, qualified workers and the importance of a drug-free workplace on infrastructure projects.
Here is the entire letter:
January 29, 2018
President Donald J. Trump, The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump:
On behalf of the 4,000 member employers of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), I write to you today to urge your continued support for Executive Order (EO) 13502, Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects. This EO is sound policy that offers all participants in the electrical construction industry, including owners, contractors, and employees, the safety and peace of mind needed to advance the industry that brings power, light, and communication technology to buildings and communities across the nation.
The EO simply allows a Federal agency to consider the use of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on federal construction contracts over $25 million. Under the right circumstances, the EO has shown real value to the federal government by limiting the risk assumed by federal agencies when contracting with various employers. In fact, executive agencies have only been encouraged to use this agreement in cases where the interest of the federal government can best be served by a focus on “achieving economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.”
Under the EO, the use of a PLA should not in any way be distorted to be seen as an agency-wide mandate or a condition for winning a federal or federally-assisted construction contract. In fact, since the promulgation of the EO, very few Federal projects – as few as 12 out of 1,173 – have utilized a PLA. In those cases where the PLA was utilized, the agency sought to protect investments by the American taxpayer from the complexities of organizing work schedules, differing trades, thousands of man-hours, payment arrangements, change orders, and other terms and conditions such large-scale projects entail.
For decades, PLAs have proven to be a time-tested method towards ensuring that projects are completed on-time and exceeding quality construction standards, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars. PLAs help ensure that contractors, sub-contractors, communities and workers agree to working conditions, ensuring coordination for smooth project completion. Training requirements, coupled with fair compensation and benefits, save taxpayer dollars by ensuring on- time and on-budget completion of projects.
Since all sizeable stakeholders are involved in the procurement of a Federal project, the EO makes no attempt to suppress the fair and open competition for work, nor does it limit the number of contractors who may bid on a project. In fact, barring the use of PLAs would be a “one size fits all approach,” which of course does not work in the reality of the world of construction. Maintaining the current policy provides Federal agencies with the tools and the flexibility they need to procure construction projects as they see fit and does not hamstring their options.
It is important to note that PLAs can support other components of your agenda, such as cracking down on undocumented workers. PLAs are an important tool that ensures federal projects are completed by legal, documented employees and discourages the utilization of unskilled and undocumented workers. No system can prevent all abuse, but the use of established hiring methods under PLAs goes a long way to assure that identities and skills claimed by workers are valid. Similarly, NECA and our partner, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, endorse and have implemented required national guidelines to build a Drug Free Workplace. As you noted in your State of the Union Address, we must face and overcome the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction. PLAs support the many established programs in the construction industry to help identify and rehabilitate those workers caught in the deadly spiral of drug abuse.
In support of your effort to craft a robust nationwide infrastructure bill, NECA and our partners nationwide urge the continued implementation of E.O 13502 as a useful tool for advancing responsible federal procurement and for guaranteeing the timely, effective, and efficient delivery of taxpayer funded projects.
John M. Grau
Chief Executive Officer