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New Report: PLAs Create Jobs, Expand Opportunities


October 7, 2011


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A major emphasis of President Obama’s recently unveiled jobs plan is infrastructure investments, renovating bridges, schools and the power system, while putting thousands of unemployed construction workers back to work.


And for more than 50 years, project labor agreements – project-specific, pre-hire agreements that govern wages, timelines and working conditions – have been vital to making sure construction jobs pay a living wage, while providing cost-efficient, high-quality, on-time construction.

A new study from Cornell University’s School of Industrial Relations, released Oct. 6, finds that PLAs play an invaluable role in creating good-paying career opportunities for those the hardest hit by the recession – minorities, women and military veterans.

The report – Community Workforce Provisions in Project Labor Agreements – profiles PLAs used on some of the biggest construction projects in the last few years that have incorporated community workforce agreements, which target local residents, particularly those too often excluded from the job market, to help them find careers in the construction industry.

The study, authored by Cornell researchers Maria Figueroa, Jeff Grabelsky and Ryan Lamare, finds that:

PLAs/CWAs are becoming comprehensive, including more community workforce provisions during recent years than prior to 2004. This indicates that employment and training opportunities have been provided to an increased number of communities over the last five to six years.

The report finds that if the $105 billion earmarked for construction projects in Obama’s jobs plan used PLAs that incorporate community workforce agreements, more than 500,000 new jobs would be created, including 70,000 apprenticeship positions for minorities, women and veterans.

PLAs are being targeted by the same right-wing political forces and big-money special interests that have gone after the rights and benefits of public employees. From California to Michigan, Republican political operatives and the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors have launched an aggressive legislative campaign to ban the use of the agreements on local and state government projects.

Says IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill:

Project labor agreements have played a key role in making sure the construction industry provides quality work and jobs for decades and now community workforce agreements are helping to make sure all Americans have a chance to get back to work. As we look to a rejuvenation of construction to help restart the economy, it’s vital that elected officials resist efforts to kill the very instruments that help make construction jobs good jobs.

Click here to read the report.