NOVEMBER 24th — Mayor Mike Bloomberg today announced the signing of long-awaited Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) worth $5.3 Billion in public projects over the next four years. The signing of the PLA’s caps an eight-month negotiation process between the Trades and the City administration. These are the first-ever PLA’s for City agencies. The PLA for the School Construction Authority builds on a previous PLA agreement. The announcement was made at the Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School at Spring and Broome Streets in Soho.
Calling the PLA deals “the economic downturn’s silver lining,” the Mayor said hard economic times have allowed the City to win $300 million in savings from labor unions by exacting concessions in work rules and overtime, including a waiver of Wicks Law provisions. (Hear audio of the Mayor here.) Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera, in response to a question, countered by noting that the PLA’s put savings dollars back into the City’s capital budget, where they will be used to fund an additional 1,800 unionized construction jobs. (Hear audio of Mr. LaBarbera here.)
The solid turnout of labor leaders at the event — including top officials of the Mason Tenders, Ironworkers, Painters, Elevator Constructors, and others — was a clear indication that they support the PLA’s and believe their funding guarantees will be instrumental in helping many union members ride out the recession. The PLA’s mean different things to different unions, with some — like Mason Tenders Local 79 — looking to see significant hiring. Others, like the Elevator Constructors, are expecting just a small boost.
Building Trades Employers’ Association President Lou Coletti thanked the Mayor for stimulating jobs and said that his contractors would “compete very heavily” for the work, thus insuring greater savings for the City. (Hear audio of Mr. Coletti here.)
Overtime is capped at time-and-a-half for work performed from Monday through Saturday with no restriction on the ability of contractors to schedule overtime to meet deadlines. All trades have agreed to standardization of terms and flexibility of scheduling at job sites, including eight standard holidays, 8-hour day, 40-hour weeks, flexible start times, and coordinated lunch periods. Strikes are prohibited even if broader work stoppages exist outside the work sites.
The Mayor’s office said the PLA’s will fund 32,000 construction jobs over the four year life of the agreements. He was joined by Reverend Jacques A. DeGraff of the Minority Business Leadership Council, who noted that the PLA’s have specific provisions to increase the numbers of minorities and women who can be placed on construction jobs. For contracts and subcontracts of less than $1 million, managed by non-union Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, the contractor will be allowed to fill as many as half of the first eight jobs on a project with their own workforce. The PLA’s commit unions to the goal of hiring 45% of apprentices from the ranks of minorities, women, returning veterans, and new high school graduates of theCity’s public schools.
Here is a breakdown of the four Project Labor Agreements which were finalized today:
The first covers $942 million in projects for the general renovation and rehabilitation of existing City-owned buildings and structures.
The second and third, worth $1.9 billion, covers eleven large-scale, new construction projects, including a new Police Academy, a new branch library in Far Rockaway, and the City’s new 911 dispatching center.
The fourth PLA, between the School Construction Authority (SCA) and the Building and Trades Construction Council, funds $2.5 billion or renovation and rehabilitation of schools.
The Mayor made it clear that other PLA’s are in the works. including one which would cover an additional $509 million of work at wastewater treatment plants, housing properties owned by the City and at other sites.