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News Publications

‘Responsible Contractor Agreement’ to Boost
Union Jobs in Pa.

November 30, 2009

Contractors bidding on large county jobs in northeastern Pennsylvania have a new agreement to follow that will greatly benefit IBEW members.

A “responsible contractor agreement” passed by Luzerne County officials in late October seeks to ensure that well-trained local residents get a fairer shot at working on county construction and renovation projects that cost $25,000 or more.

Wilkes-Barre Local 163 Business Manager Michael Kwashnik worked with local politicians and business leaders to get the agreement passed. He said it’s a “win-win” for the county, local union workers and taxpayers.

Kwashnik explained:

This keeps unethical contractors honest and puts the people who pay tax dollars to work. If a dollar is paid to a local worker, that dollar stays within the community. Before, if an out-of-town contractor came in and was awarded a project, they would likely bring in an out-of-town work force. That’s money that leaves our community. So this agreement is very valuable to the county and the community.

The language in the Luzerne agreement is based on a similar arrangement that has been on the books for a few years in neighboring Lackawanna County. Scranton Local 81 Business Manager Jack Flanagan – who helped draft Lackawanna’s agreement – has seen progress since it went into place and predicts similar gains for Local 163’s members.

Said Flanagan:

The agreement in Lackawanna made more of a guarantee that we’re going to get the prevailing wage work. Officials have been very pleased with it. It benefits both the county and the union.

Since Luzerne’s agreement passed, Kwashnik is eyeing two multimillion-dollar projects that are coming down the pike within the next few years: renovation of the county courthouse and construction of a new county prison. Considering economic concerns, Kwashnik said the local has been doing “fairly well” with minimal numbers of workers on the bench. With the upcoming projects, he predicts even higher employment for members.



Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user pragdave.