Governor Tim Pawlenty signed an Executive Order prohibiting state agencies from adopting project labor agreements — which prevent work stoppages on state construction jobs — effective Dec. 6.
Pawlenty’s Order is virtually identical to one signed by President Bush applicable to federal agencies. The action was immediately condemned by Building Trades unions that represent Minnesota’s skilled construction workers.
“Unfortunately the governor once again has allowed his agenda to be hijacked by a right-wing fringe group, the so-called ‘Associated Builders and Contractors’ or ‘ABC’,” said Dick Anfang, president of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council.
“In fact, a picture of Pawlenty signing the Executive Order alongside ABC representatives appears on the ABC website. The governor should have respected the democratic process and let the Legislature decide whether project labor agreements benefit the State of Minnesota.”
Anfang noted that “project labor agreements are good for the state and the taxpayers because they ban strikes and lockouts on state jobs and provide for a steady supply of skilled labor. Under these agreements projects are built on time and under budget. That is why they have been used to build major public works projects like the Hiawatha Light Rail Line, the Minnesota Department of Revenue Building and the Orville L. Freeman Office Building. All contractors have the opportunity to work under a project labor agreement, union and non-union alike.”
Non-union contractor organizations like the ABC have been seeking bans on project labor agreements across the country. “Gov. Pawlenty’s leadership on this issue will encourage competition,” Kent Durenberger, 2005 Chairman of ABC of Minnesota, said on the group’s website.
Anfang noted that the State Building Trades Council is considering a legal challenge to the governor’s action.