Breaking union negotiations

News ATSSA Flash March 06, 2001
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By an executive order, President George W

By an executive order, President George W. Bush has thrown out a practice of requiring contractors to follow union-negotiated agreements on federal construction projects, a move that is likely to affect reconstruction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River.


The executive order was one of a series issued by President Bush directed at union activities.


The issue of project labor agreements, which requires constractors to pay union wages or the equivalent, had strongly divided political leaders in Maryland and Virginia, who are partners in the Wilson bridge project. Maryland Governor Parris Glendening and John Porcari, secretary of the Maryland DOT, said efforts will be made to prevent work delays on the project, even though three weeks of construction has already been held off awaiting the Bush decision.


Maryland is to lead the construction aspect of the Maryland/Virginia/District of Columbia project, and had earlier planned to incorporate "project labor agreements," which require all work on a project to meet union-negotiated standards for pay and conditions. Union officials decried the executive order.


On the flip side, Virginia Governor James S. Gilmore III welcomed the Bush decision and said it may lower project costs. Bill Spencer, vice president of governmental affairs for the Associated Builders and Constractors, who represents many non-union firms, applauded the move. "Now all contractors and their employees in the greater Washington area have a shot at some of the work the bridge will generate," he said.



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