Letters to the Editor

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LABOR: Agreements serve the public interest

Letter by Mark P. Martinez, Tacoma on March 16, 2012 at 11:26 am | 34 Comments »
March 16, 2012 1:24 pm

Re: “More use of labor agreements in public projects raises costs for taxpayers” (Viewpoint, 3-15).

So the use of a market-based, project-efficiency tool like project labor agreements (PLAs) for public construction don’t pass muster with the Associated General Contractors of Washington.

I wonder what they have against promoting career opportunities for local residents or strongly encouraging the use of minority- and women-owned contractors. Maybe the AGC would like to import cheap labor and have local construction workers (who pay the taxes to fund these projects) sit home unemployed.

Perhaps the AGC doesn’t like the way Toyota conducts its cost-conscious and profit-orientated business model by building all of its North American factories under PLAs.

In a February 2011 letter to the Building & Construction Trades Department, company President Tetsuo Agata wrote, “Large-scale construction projects pose unique challenges for corporations such as ours that maintain the highest standards of safety, efficiency and productivity. To address these challenges, Toyota has consistently employed project labor agreements for our major construction projects, and could not have been more pleased with the results.”

It seems to me that in the name of good business practice, government should be able to use proven tools to build our schools and infrastructure. PLAs have that proven track record. For further information on PLAs, go to www.PLAsWork.org.

(Martinez is executive secretary of the Pierce County Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO.)

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