WASHINGTON — Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is advocating passage of two new bills in Congress that it says are designed to preserve open competition and government neutrality in contracting for the U.S. construction industry.

H.R. 2269, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, was introduced on May 22 by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.). H.R. 2293, the Government Labor Neutrality Act of 2003, was introduced on June 2 by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas). According to ABC, these two bills will prevent union-only project labor agreements on projects receiving federal assistance.

The Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 2269) codifies presidential executive order 13202 introduced by President George W. Bush on February 17, 2001. The legislation is designed to ensure that there are no mandatory project labor agreements on federally-funded or federally-assisted construction projects.

The Government Labor Neutrality Act of 2003 (H.R. 2293) amends the National Labor Relations Act to prevent government agencies, an agency acting on behalf of the government, a recipient of a federal grant or financial assistance, a person who has entered into a cooperative agreement with the government, or a state or a political subdivision thereof from requiring or prohibiting employers in the construction industry from entering into agreements with labor organizations.

“ABC has made the fight against costly and discriminatory union-only project labor agreements a top national priority, and ABC is working closely with these bill’s sponsors to encourage passage to ensure government neutrality in contracting” stated Kirk Pickerel, ABC’s president and CEO. “Both H.R. 2269 and H.R. 2293 are vitally important bills that will ensure free enterprise and open competition in the U.S. construction industry.

“PLAs drive up costs for taxpayers while discriminating against the four out of five construction workers who choose not to join a labor union,” he said. “In 2001, President Bush issued an executive order that wisely ensured open competition on federal construction projects. It is time to make this protection permanent. Congress should quickly pass these bills to protect American workers and taxpayers from mandatory union-only project labor agreements on federally-funded and federally-assisted construction projects.”

Publication date: 06/16/2003