In recent debate surrounding H.R. 1, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011, a bipartisan coalition in the House of Representatives beat back efforts to pass an amendment that would have banned the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal-funded construction projects.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Frank Guinta (R-1st-N.H.) and represented the first time in the 112th Congress, the House has voted directly on the PLA issue. Also during the all-night debate on H.R. 1, the House voted by a wide margin to support the Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage coverage.

By rejecting an amendment offered by Rep. Steve King (R-5th-Iowa), the House spoke with a strong bipartisan voice to support common-sense economics as well as construction quality and productivity.

“SMACNA was gratified and pleased to see the new 112th Congress cut through the wildly exaggerated debate points to uphold and endorse the value of enforcing local labor standards on public construction projects of significance as well as preserve the federal government's option of considering and utilizing project agreements where owner goals are best served,” said Jim Boone, president of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). “To do otherwise would have prevented the federal government from having the same project-management options most frequently found on private-sector projects simply to serve a misguided anti-labor agenda that would compromise construction quality.”

SMACNA supports the government’s right to determine appropriate use of PLAs and have joined other organizations in applauding President Obama for signing the Executive Order encouraging executive agencies to require the consideration of the use of PLAs on federal-funded construction projects. In fact, most PLAs are found on private projects where corporate budget and scheduling decisions are highly scrutinized. SMACNA believes that smart construction management calls for the federal government, just like the private sector, to have the option to consider and establish project agreements where necessary and appropriate. SMACNA and our thousands of contractor members greatly appreciate that H.R. 1 will continues to recognize the importance in prevailing wages as part of any quality based public procurement policy. Federal, state and local prevailing wage laws encourage employers to:

• Pay a locally prevailing wage • Offer health-care coverage to their employees and their families

• Provide for the future retirement of the employees

• Make a significant investment in the future by training a skilled and safety conscious workforce.

SMACNA, an international trade association representing 4,500 contributing contractor firms, is dedicated to promoting quality and excellence in the sheet metal and air conditioning industry.