Project Labor Agreements will Hurt Parsippany Taxpayers and Businesses

Discriminatory Labor Scheme

parsippany focus

parsippany focusDear Editor:

It may come as a shock for the taxpayers of Morris County to learn that Mayor James Barberio and some of the Parsippany Council are seeking to raise the cost of public works projects and discriminate against local Parsippany businesses and workers.  However, their recent ordinance that mandates costly Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) will do just that.

This week, Mayor Barbiero introduced an ordinance that would mandate PLA’s on any public works projects exceeding $5 million. Presently, the town has discretion to use PLA’s or allow for open bidding on jobs by local businesses.

This ordinance runs contrary to the values of free enterprise, fair competition, and fiscal conservatism.  Parsippany deserves elected officials who protect taxpayers from such wasteful schemes and monopolies that drive up costs and take hard earned money and opportunities away from local businesses.

Government-mandated PLA’s are project-specific collective bargaining agreements unique to the construction industry, which are typically created without input from nonunion, or “open shop” contractors. PLA’s require contractors to recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on taxpayer-funded construction projects.

Further, they require membership or union fees for all nonunion employees, adherence to union work classification and hiring rules, and contributions to union benefit and multi-employer pension plans, which understandably discourage open shop contractors from bidding on these projects.

PLA’s Negatively Impact:
Stability and Predictability
PLA’s are not necessary to ensuring labor peace; keeping a project safe, on time, budget; or in compliance with laws. Unions leverage the threat of labor unrest to justify PLA’s, yet it has not stopped strikes on prominent PLA projects, calling into question the value of the agreements. Conversely, merit shop workers do not strike, yet are discouraged from working on PLA projects.

Diversity and Local Jobs
PLA’s discriminate against merit shop contractors. This particularly impacts women and minority-owned construction companies whose employees traditionally have been under-represented in unions. According to the BLS, only 26.9% of New Jersey’s private construction workforce is represented by a union, and 98% of minority construction companies are nonunion.

Training and Cost
Participants in both federal and state approved nonunion apprenticeship programs, along with non-registered industry and educational programs, typically cannot work on PLA sanctioned projects. This excludes many professionals from hometown jobs, ignoring a critical workforce pipeline as the industry faces a shortage of skilled labor.

Additionally, studies of taxpayer-funded construction projects, subject to prevailing wage laws, demonstrate PLA’s increase the cost between 12% and 20%, compared to similar projects not subject to PLA mandates by unnecessarily limiting the pool of qualified bidders and mandating inefficient work rules.

PLA’s are unfair because they require union rules which harm nonunion contractors, their employees, and taxpayers who pay the bill for the inefficiencies and higher costs they produce.

Everything about a PLA is averse to the free market mindset, yet we have fiscally conservative elected officials entertaining these agreements after construction labor unions have lined their pockets during election season at the expense of local businesses, women and minorities, Parsippany taxpayers and free enterprise.

Tell Mayor Barberio and the Parsippany Council to reject this ordinance that will raise the cost of public works projects and discriminate against local businesses and workers. E-mail Mayor Barberio and Council at to make your voice heard today.

Mayor: James R. Barberio;

Council President: Michael J. dePierro
Council Vice President: Loretta Gragnani
Paul Carifi, Jr.
Frank Neglia
Justin Musella

Samantha DeAlmeida
Associated Builders and Contractors of NJ