Last week (Vol. 4, Issue 3, January 23, 2015) we asked our readers if Project Labor Agreements (PLA) restrict competition. A recent Maryland appellate court upheld use of a PLA on a public project, citing the fact it was not proved that a PLA unduly suppresses competition. Of the eight very well-articulated responses, the comments were overwhelming against the use of PLAs. Interestingly enough, many of the comments pointed out that the use of Davis-Bacon wage compliance mostly accomplishes the same competitive goals, with the PLA being redundant, but at the same time, imposing union labor-restrictions that result in driving up costs.
Additionally, that the Maryland Board of Public Works (MBPW) was implementing the PLA as a one-time pilot project did not constitute a new regulation was also considered in the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals' (MSBCA) decision to allow the PLA to be used. That decision was subsequently affirmed by the Circuit Court of Baltimore City and the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. This will be a good project to watch to see how the MBPW rates the use of a PLA against its purported advantages. The project was awarded in 2012 and expected to take 38 months to complete.
Note, the PLA was an option for the project, not a requirement, and one of seven evaluation factors for the technical proposal, and was ranked as "low importance." All of the proposals submitted on the project did contain a PLA.