Make no mistake about it, former President Bush had a hard on for union construction workers, one of the first Executive Orders of the Bush administration was "Executive Order 13208 of April 6, 2001", which banned the use of Project Labor Agreements(PLA's) on Federally funded projects.
Just two weeks ago the US Senate rejected an attempt to codify Bush's ban into law. Senator David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana proposed that his legislation, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, be amended into the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. By a Senate vote of 59-38 the Vitter amendment failed. The only Republican that voted against Vitter's plan was Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania. If you do the math that means 97.3% of Senate Republicans absolutely hate Union construction workers. If the Bush EO banning PLA's on Federal projects had been codified into law it would have been extremely hard to reverse.
Today with just a few weeks in office President Obama has repealed 13208, with the Executive Order titled "USE OF PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS FOR FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS", here's part of the briefing from the White House site:
Section 1. Policy. (a) Large-scale construction projects pose special challenges to efficient and timely procurement by the Federal Government. Construction employers typically do not have a permanent workforce, which makes it difficult for them to predict labor costs when bidding on contracts and to ensure a steady supply of labor on contracts being performed. Challenges also arise due to the fact that construction projects typically involve multiple employers at a single location. A labor dispute involving one employer can delay the entire project. A lack of coordination among various employers, or uncertainty about the terms and conditions of employment of various groups of workers, can create frictions and disputes in the absence of an agreed-upon resolution mechanism. These problems threaten the efficient and timely completion of construction projects undertaken by Federal contractors. On larger projects, which are generally more complex and of longer duration, these problems tend to be more pronounced.Building Trades President
(b) The use of a project labor agreement may prevent these problems from developing by providing structure and stability to large-scale construction projects, thereby promoting the efficient and expeditious completion of Federal construction contracts. Accordingly, it is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.
International Brotherhood Of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa:
America's Building Trades Unions praise the action today by President Obama in issuing an Executive Order overturning the Bush Administration's ban on federal project labor agreements (PLAs).
The Bush anti-PLA Executive Order was exactly the type of special interest-driven politics and policy that American voters rejected overwhelmingly last November.
PLAs are designed to provide maximum benefit to construction users; union and non-union workers; union and non-union contractors; lenders and insurance companies; and taxpayers. PLAs are frequently negotiated to address a wide range of local and social needs, including the assurance of hiring of local residents, and outreach programs designed to offer local residents the opportunity for a career in the skilled trades.
We acknowledge and praise this Executive Order as being one of the first steps in ushering in a new, more pragmatic and value-conscious approach to governing.
...Such agreements are efficient, save money and promote safety and labor standards.Mike Hall over at the AFL-CIO Now blog add's
Obama's order overturns an order signed by President George W. Bush in 2001 that banned the federal government from requiring PLAs. Obama's order does not mandate PLAs on large-scale, federally funded projects, but it encourages agencies to consider requiring them to promote efficiency and achieve cost savings.
This is a great day indeed, thank you President Obama.
Today’s action follows Obama’s three executive orders last week that reversed a trio of Bush-era orders governing the way federal contractors deal with union workers. The new orders:
- Require federal service contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
- Reverse a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.
- Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.