• The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) reports that the Bush administration suffered a defeat in its attempt to ban project labor agreements (PLAs) when a federal court stayed President George W. Bush’s executive order. SMACNA is disappointed that the administration indicated it would appeal to try to overturn the district court’s ruling. The association believes that private and public project owners should have the right to manage construction as they see fit, including the use of PLAs where appropriate.

    The association says that the use of PLAs should remain an option. “Politics aside, PLAs frequently bring quality construction projects in on time and within budget. To foreclose the use of PLAs for political reasons doesn’t well serve the taxpayer or the project owner’s economic interest.”

    Courtesy of Stan Kolbe, director of legislation, SMACNA. Contact (e-mail).

    MCAA News

  • According to the Mechanical Con-tractors Association of America (MCAA), despite the reluctance of Congress to legislate taxpayer-financed stop-loss coverage for the insurance industry to guard against huge losses related to terrorism, the association is working to gain some protection so that terrorism exclusions from reinsurance coverage do not suppress industry recovery in building markets. MCAA says that it will begin working with researchers to track the impact of terrorism losses on workers’ compensation rates.

  • The Enron situation will have an impact on utility restructuring, and may aid the MCAA and the Alliance for Fair Competition to gain federal protection for contractors against public utilities that try to cross-subsidize their affiliate operations to unfairly compete in private-sector markets, such as the hvacr industry.

  • Prevailing wage protection to prevent further workforce skills erosion will stay a top agenda item for the association.

    Courtesy of John McNerney, executive director, government and labor relations, MCAA. Contact (e-mail).

    ASA News

  • At the federal level, the focus of the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) is to enact the Construction Quality Assurance Act of 2001 (H.R. 1859). Introduced by Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), this legislation would prohibit bid shopping on federal construction contracts and allow government contracting officers to investigate incidents of bid shopping.

    Bid shopping is defined as “the practice of a [general] contractor asking, requiring, or otherwise pressuring a subcontractor to lower bids for subcontracts, or accepting lower bids from subcontractors, after submitting a bid, without passing the savings from the lower bids back to the federal government.”

  • The association will continue to implement its Subcontractors’ Transfer of Risk Action Plan (STRAP), which includes pursuing legislation addressing risk transfer at the state level. The program was developed to educate construction leaders and legislators about the inappropriate transfer of risk to subcontractors that prevails in the construction industry.

    Courtesy of Jim Turpin, CAE, director-government relations, ASA. Contact (e-mail).