Missouri Bill Would Bar Construction Labor Agreements

Missouri lawmakers approved a bill April 27 that would bar project labor agreements that require non-union contractors to pay union wages, according to Bloomberg BNA.

Under S.B. 182, state and local governments would be prohibited from requiring bidders on public projects to use union labor or pay union wages. The bill would also prohibit preferential treatment for union contractors and cut state funding on local governments that violate the law. Gov. Eric Greitens (R-Mo.) is expected to sign the legislation; Greitens signed into law a right-to-work measure earlier this year.

Under current law, project labor agreements are banned in Missouri for projects funded 50 percent or more with state funds but are allowed for other projects.

According to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the bill could save "thousands of dollars" for the state.

"The bill would leave it in the hands of the contractor, and as a result, the contractor can choose the most cost-efficient way to get the job done," Brian Bunten, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement. "That's a win for the contractor, a win for employees chosen for the job, and it's a win for Missouri taxpayers."

Local governments in the state, as well as organizations such as Missouri School Boards Association and the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis, say the bill has not been a priority and they have not taken a position for or against the bill.

"I've never seen one of our members bring up project labor agreements in the 37 years I've been with the league," Richard Sheets, deputy director of the Missouri Municipal League, told Bloomberg BNA April 28.

Mike Louis, president of the AFL-CIO in Missouri, said most local governments and school districts are pleased with project labor agreements.

"These agreements are great for the governments and school boards that are contracting for work to get done," Louis told Bloomberg BNA April 28. "They ensure there's no work stoppage, they ensure a proper starting date, and most of them have penalties for the contractor if work isn't done on time. And they also make sure that the work is done by highly qualified workers."

S.B. 182 also gives enforcement authority of the bill's provisions to the state attorney general and local prosecutors and includes a private right of action allowing wrongly excluded contractors to pursue damages.

By NRCA

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A.
8621 E. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Tampa, FL 33610
www.trentcotney.com

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