U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez toured the $345 million wharf project at Naval Base Kitsap this week, which is being built primarily with local labor thanks to a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). After touring the facility, Perez and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) met with the heads of a dozen local trades unions to learn more about what makes these agreements tick. Labor leaders report that the project has come in on time and under budget.
According to Representative Kilmer (D-Wa) “When the federal government’s going to spend a whole lot of money, making sure it’s actually using a local workforce for the project and making sure the benefits accrue to the local community is a really big deal.”
It was the first time the Department of Defense signed a PLA, one that was praised for hiring local workers who completed the work on time. .
In a joint bipartisan letter to President Obama, Representative Kilmer was joined by Representative David Joyce (R-OH) who called on the Administration to substantially increase the number of PLAs on federal projects. In the letter, Rep. Kilmer notes:
“Federal construction projects need skilled local workers on the job so they can stay on budget and on schedule. By using Project Labor Agreements we can ensure sites at places like Naval Base Kitsap are putting local people to work and paying them a good wage. It’s why I’m leading a bipartisan call for the White House to increase their use so we can better support quality jobs at our federal construction projects.”
A PLA is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement negotiated between a project’s owner and a labor organization that sets the basic terms and work conditions for the project. Although President Obama signed a 2009 Executive Order promoting the use of PLAs on Defense Department projects, the project at Kitsap is the only one that has come to fruition.
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