PLAs = Less School for the Money

Ally WetheraldLegislative Alerts

PG Co School Super Said New PLA Dictate Could Bring Halt to Construction Program

In the wake of executive orders from President Biden and, more recently, Maryland Governor Moore, the Prince Georges County Council has become a  chief proponent for union-only Project Labor Agreements.  But not surprisingly, the resulting increased costs threaten to bring their Blueprint Schools construction program to a standstill,  per a January 17 letter from Prince George’s School Superintendent Millard House, II.

The  County Council, at the urging of labor lobbyists,  lifted the previous requirement that there must be three responsible, responsive bids for every contract package to ensure competitive pricing.  Unable to secure multiple union bids in a State where only one out of every 10 firms is a Union signatory, the council reduced the number of bids to one – refusing to lift the PLA and allow merit shop firms to bid without committing to a PLA.  As a result, bids are coming in significantly over budget, similar to past PLAs in Prince George’s County on library and other projects. Moreover, the Council also rolled back the required participation for MBE firms, in direct opposition to one of the main objectives of Blueprint Schools. 

“We understand PLAs make for good politics in Maryland,” said ABC Greater Baltimore’s Mike Henderson. “But the reality is they shut out local workers,  drive up costs and they exclude qualified  Maryland-based businesses, particularly historically disadvantaged firms.” Maryland has been mostly PLA-free for decades as organized labor has been unable to deliver on their broad promises of utilizing local workers and firms.  ABC is concerned that the executive orders of the President and Maryland’s Governor will negatively impact the vast majority of Maryland’s businesses.

“Historically, PLAs undertaken in Maryland have failed to lower prices, deliver timely projects and benefit local workers. They are over budget, they are populated from workers outside the State, and they have low W/MBE participation. PLAs may be good politics but they are demonstrably bad policy,” Henderson said.

Note to ABC Members: In the two months since the Governor issued an executive order, urging procurement offices to strongly consider the use of union-only project labor agreements, our Chapters have been speaking with administration officials. We have also joined a coalition of business organizations that will be engaged in a state-wide effort to educate the general public and elected officials on the negative impact of PLAs on the State of Maryland. Members will be asked to participate, write letters, and make calls to their local elected officials. You will be hearing more about these efforts in the days and weeks ahead. If you would like to get involved or if you have any questions, please contact Mike Henderson,