Governors Eric Greitens of Missouri and Scott Walker of Wisconsin appeared together Tuesday to celebrate Greitens' signature on legislation that ends the current requirement mandating union working conditions for contractors if the projects are less than half funded by the state. Senate Bill 182 reforms Project Labor Agreements in Missouri.
Under current state law, firms bidding to work on public construction projects can be required to enter into collective bargaining with unions, hire workers through union halls, and pay union wages and benefits. SB 182, or the “Fairness in Public Construction Act,” bans the requirement and was passed by both the Missouri House and the Senate in late April. Governments that violate the law will lose state funding and tax credits for two years. It takes effect Aug. 28.
State legislators called the bill pro-taxpayer, saying its implementation will end waste and unjustified discrimination while using the free market to save taxpayer dollars. Greitens said it eliminates special advantages for union bosses when negotiating government contracts, which he says decrease competition and drive up the costs of construction for the taxpayer.
“Project Labor Agreements drive up the cost of construction and kill jobs,” Greitens said. “We’re eliminating this sweetheart deal for special interests, protecting taxpayers, and creating more opportunity for all workers in Missouri.”
Senator Bob Onder sponsored the bill, saying “Union-Only Project Labor Agreements represent unfair public policy and bad governance by eliminating competition.Implementation of SB 182 will allow non-union workers to compete fairly for public projects and protect taxpayer dollars by making sure they get the best product for the best cost.”
Labor unions said the legislation will lead to lower wages and lower-quality workmanship on projects. St. Louis Democrat Sen. Jake Hummel, the secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO union, told The Associated Press the so-called project labor agreements are rare and used to ensure projects are completed on time, under budget and with skilled laborers.
Walker signed similar legislation in April.