How Project Labor Agreements Protect High Standards
Part of our responsibility as union members in the construction industry is to stay united to protect the high standards that define our union. Since its founding, the Northwest Carpenters Union has worked to ensure our members have the highest-quality skills training and safety education programs. We have fought for decades for decent wages and benefits that sustain families and build strong communities.
It takes dedicated, action-oriented union members, staff, and leaders to keep up the battle to protect our standards against low-road industry players who value greed over quality and safety.
We use a variety of tools and we fight on many fronts: at the bargaining table, in the government permitting arena, during campaigns to elect worker-friendly candidates, and in the streets where we educate the public with banners and handbills.
One of the tools in our toolbox is the Project Labor Agreement (PLA).
What is a PLA?
PLAs have been used for generations to govern terms and conditions for all craft workers on individual construction projects.
PLAs can be used to regulate public, private, or hybrid projects. They help workers, contractors, owners, and taxpayers by ensuring:
- Fair and equitable wages and benefits
- Highest-quality skill and safety standards
- Efficient dispute resolution and labor peace
- On-time, on-budget delivery
PLAs can also incorporate specific community benefit standards to govern the use of apprentices, numbers of minorities and women employed and the involvement of Disadvantaged, Minority- and Women-Owned businesses on construction sites and in technical-assistance roles.
Some current and recent Northwest Carpenters Union projects governed by PLAs include Seattle’s Colman Dock, several Port of Seattle projects, the Arena at Seattle Center, the Multnomah County (Oregon) Central Courthouse, and Juneau International Airport in Alaska. Each of these projects is governed by a PLA with customized terms that address the needs of all parties to the agreement.
PLAs frequently come under attack by the non-union construction industry and anti-worker, anti-union politicians. It’s our job to stand up, defend our standards, and preserve PLAs.
If you are on a PLA job and believe the rules governing your job are not being followed notify your steward or call your business representative.