Republican legislators aren’t wasting anytime rolling back on project protections that are good for workers, businesses, and taxpayers.
To open this session, Republicans allied with Gov. Scott Walker introduced anti-worker legislation in the Senate and the Assembly, continuing Gov. Walker’s tradition of anti-labor, anti-union “reforms” he started during his first term.
Senate Bill 3 introduced by Senators Vukmir (R-Brookfield), Olsen (R-Ripon), Craig (R-Big Bend), Darling (R-River Hills), Kapenga (R-Delafield), LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), Nass (R-Whitewater), Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Wanggaard (R-Racine), prohibits the state and all local government from implementing a Project Labor Agreement or Community Workforce Agreement on public works projects. The bills counterpart in the Assembly is Assembly Bill 24.
On Tuesday a public hearing was held on AB 24. Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) spoke in support of the bill. “The intent of this legislation is to promote government neutrality in the bidding process by allowing for the market to have a greater impact on determining which firm is right for the job. Removing these requirements at the front end allows for a standard basis at which more firms operate…Removing outdated barriers and encouraging greater participation is a win for Wisconsin’s construction industry for Wisconsin’s economy, for Wisconsin’s taxpayers.”
Several others spoke out to oppose the bill. Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO said, “Project Labor Agreement have built America…With the knowledge of Project Labor Agreements used both here in Wisconsin and throughout the nation, why would anyone wish for local governments to be restrained from using this important tool that sees to projects being done time, on budget, while putting local people to work?”
Dan Bukiewicz, president of Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council and an Oak Creek Alderman released a statement echoing Bloomingdales’ comments.
“This legislation would deny local communities the ability to enter into PLAs and achieve the same benefits as private sector construction users,” Bukiewicz said. “PLAs have demonstrated an economic benefit to both private and public projects. Local municipalities should be able to utilize them if they deem them appropriate for their needs, and should not have the state over-govern and take that option away. Local officials are better aware of the needs of their community than state officials in Madison.”
The MBCTC represents over 10,000 union trades people in the construction industry.