Young criticized as anti-worker for leading opposition to draft labor agreements |

Labor leaders in northwest Indiana and across Hoosier state condemn U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., for leading Senate Republicans to prevent use of deals project work on large-scale federally funded infrastructure projects.

“It was a direct attack on us. It was a direct attack on the building trades, the workers, in Northwest Indiana,” said Randy Palmateer, business manager of Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council.

A Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is a pre-employment contract primarily used in the construction industry that establishes terms and conditions of employment for all workers on a large public or private project, such as wages and benefits, workplace safety rules and dispute resolution procedures.

The agreement applies to unionized and non-unionized employees on a construction site. It generally ensures that all contractors bring in a sufficient number of trained workers to do the job with minimal work stoppages, such as a strike or lockout, and maximum coordination between different trades to complete the project. on time.

Almost all counties and municipalities in northwest Indiana require PLAs as part of any major construction project. PLAs are also employed on many private sector projects in the region, including the $300 million Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.

“There’s nothing wrong with them. They’re just a great tool to use,” Palmateer said. “The PLA guarantees a local workforce, so you don’t have people from other states working on a project funded by taxpayer dollars. It keeps that money in the local economy.”

Democratic President Joe Biden issued an executive order last month requiring PLAs on all construction projects that include more than $35 million in federal funding to promote economy and efficiency in federal procurement and ensure cost and availability. predictable workforce.

“(APLs) ensure the commitment of all stakeholders on a construction site that the project will run efficiently without unnecessary disruptions. They also advance the interests of project owners, contractors and sub-contractors, including including small businesses,” Biden said.

Young disagrees.

In a letter he sent this week in response to the executive order, co-signed by 41 Senate Republicans, Young says a federal PLA mandate will “undermine taxpayers’ investment in public works projects” funded by the US bailout and the Infrastructure and Jobs Act. — two laws against which Young voted.

He claims, echoing talking points from the union-busting Associated Builders and Contractors, whose political action committee last year donated $5,000 to Young’s re-election campaign, that the PLA increase construction costs by “forcing bidders to sign a union anti-competitive agreement” and “preventing qualified contractors from competing fairly for contracts on taxpayer-funded projects.” »

“Your administration should design policies that support job growth for all qualified entrepreneurs, without imposing discriminatory barriers to recovery by attaching conditions to infrastructure funding,” Young said in his letter to the president.

The arguments in Young’s letter largely mirror provisions in his proposed Fair and Open Competition Act that would prevent the federal government from requiring PLAs on most federal projects; legislation that so far has failed to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“With a majority of American private construction workers not in a union, government-mandated PLAs are inherently unfair,” Young said.

“I was raised in a family of small business owners and workers, and I personally understand the economic value of free competition in the workforce. The federal government should not pick winners and losers, especially when awarding contracts.

Brett Voorhies, president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, an umbrella organization for Hoosier unions, said Young’s opposition to the PLA proves the first-term senator “is not on the side of the working Hoosiers.” .

“Senator Young would prefer to side with low-cost contractors who seek to win tenders for construction projects by reducing their labor costs and building a low-wage workforce. , low-skilled and easily exploitable,” Voorhies said. “The fact is, Project Labor Agreements help ensure that our schools, roads and bridges in Indiana are built by a safe, productive and highly skilled Hoosier workforce.

“PLAs aren’t just good for Hoosier workers, they’re good for Hoosier taxpayers, too. PLAs streamline labor relations and help ensure federal construction projects are completed on time and under budget. , saving taxpayers money.”

Palmateer also said he was “disappointed” with Young. He said the Republican senator “clearly puts politics ahead of politics,” both leading opposition to the PLA and voting against the federal infrastructure and jobs law.

“PLAs ensure that we keep local people in these jobs and that they receive a living wage,” Palmateer said. “It also puts an end to the employee misclassifications and tax evasion that is happening with some of these unscrupulous contractors who come from out of town.

“Bad actors don’t bid on projects. You get good local contractors who pay their taxes, and pay their workers’ compensation, and Social Security, and all that.”

Palmateer also said that because of Young’s letter, the Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council endorsed Hammond’s Democratic Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., whom Palmateer described as “a friend of work,” during the November 8 election in Indiana for the United States Senate.

McDermott said he welcomed the support and thought Young “should be ashamed of himself” for his stance against the APLs.

“I’ve been mayor for 18 years. During that time, and unlike Senator Young, I’ve seen major public works projects go from tender to groundbreaking – nearly $1 billion worth of projects during this time. I know how important it is to have a professional and skilled workforce to complete projects,” said McDermott.

“Senator Young’s continued attempts to undermine organized labor are not only an insult to all union members in our state, but also put our cities and towns at risk. When you allow contractors out of town, out of state, to come in and work on projects, you have no idea their safety record, their training record, or their ability to complete the job.Indiana’s building trades and other unions do work.

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