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Industry groups call for infrastructure program that ends policy favoring unions

Bill McMorris
February 19, 2018

Industry groups and labor watchdogs want to see the Trump administration eliminate wage rates that favor union labor as part of the $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.

President Donald Trump has proposed a $200 billion federal spending program and called on a further $1.3 trillion in investments from private, state, and local resources to boost infrastructure projects. He has pledged to roll back onerous regulatory and environmental reviews that have slowed large-scale building projects in the past as part of the program.

"We built the Empire State Building in just 1 year—is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?" Trump said in his State of the Union address. "Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process—getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one."

Ben Brubeck of Associated Builders & Contractors, an industry group that represents mostly non-union construction employers, said the president should also take aim at Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which set wages and benefit rates on a union scale. He said such agreements deliver "less bang for their buck for taxpayer" than projects with open bidding, and that such agreements can hinder development as badly as lengthy regulatory approval processes. He cited a Beacon Hill Institute study that found PLAs can increase costs on projects by as much as 13 percent.



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