Missouri Business Headlines

Senate debates legislation to reform project labor agreement statutes

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The Missouri Senate has debated legislation to reform the project labor agreement (PLA) law in Missouri, at great length. The bill is Senate Bill 182 and is sponsored by Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican from St. Charles. The legislation does not eliminate project labor agreements, but gives a contractor the choice to enter into an agreement or not.

A PLA is an agreement between construction firms and construction unions. Under current state law, firms bidding to work on a public construction project can be required by local governments to enter into collective bargaining with the unions, hire workers through union hiring halls, and pay union wages and benefits, whether the contractor typically uses union labor or not.

“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,” said Brian Bunten, Missouri Chamber general counsel. “That’s a win for the contractor, a win for the employees chosen for the job and it’s a win for Missouri taxpayers.”

In some parts of the state, this reform could save Missouri taxpayers thousands of dollars.

“At a time when we are facing massive budget shortfalls and must search for ways to more efficiently fund our education, infrastructure and other government works, this agreement is just common sense,” Bunten said.

Any entity that would violate the law is liable to the person affected for equitable damages. Violation also makes entities ineligible for state funding, including tax credits for two years.

More than 20 states have recently enacted legislation to significantly reform or completely eliminate government imposed PLA laws.

The bill awaits further debate by the Missouri Senate.

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