HARRISBURG—State Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) commended PennDOT for dropping its appeal of a January Commonwealth Court decision that threw out PennDOT’s planned Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the reconstruction of Markley Street in Norristown.
The Court ruled PennDOT’s requirement that contractors must hire union laborers violated the Pennsylvania Constitution’s competitive bidding requirement, as the PLA effectively precluded nonunion contractors from participating in the bid. This constitutional safeguard protects taxpayers by ensuring open and fair competition for public works projects.
“This was PennDOT’s first, and hopefully last, attempt at a PLA for roadway construction,” DiSanto said. “PLAs place undue burdens on nonunion contractors as they prohibit the contractor from using its own experienced workforce.” Nonunion contractors cannot make their own employees join a union nor do they receive a guarantee from the union that the contractor’s existing workforce will be assigned to the project.
The Court ruled that PennDOT’s rationale for pursuing the PLA to begin with was unjustified. “PennDOT argued a PLA was essential to completing the construction in a timely manner, despite the fact that the initial phase of the project was completed a year ahead of schedule and under budget without a PLA,” DiSanto said. “In the Administration’s move to favor politically powerful union leaders at the expense of nonunion contractors, PennDOT wasted nearly two years’ time that could have been spent completing the actual infrastructure project.”
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