Project Labor Agreement Cases

In A. Pickett Construction, Inc. v. Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, 738 A.2d 20 (Pa. Cmwlth 1999), the appellant argued that the use of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) discouraged non-union contractors from even bidding on projects because the requirement to employ union members on jobs would necessitate drastic revisions in how contractors structured the working relationship with their employees, thereby effectively restricting the pool of eligible contractors and lessening competition. The Court held that the award of a contract involved the exercise of the discretion by the contracting authority, and the decision of who was the lowest responsible bidder included a decision of financial responsibility, integrity, efficiency, industry experience, promptness and ability to successfully carry out the job. In Pickett, that meant that the Authority's reliance on a report finding that a PLA was more appropriate where an arena was being built that required a construction deadline that had to be met without disruption or stoppage than in other settings where timely, uninterrupted completion was not as critical was within its discretion. Other jurisdictions have also allowed PLAs. See: E.W. Tompkins Co., Inc. v. Board of Trs. of Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, 27 A.D.3d 1046, 813 N.Y.S. 2d 789 (App. Div. 2006); Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. Lavin, 431 F.3d 1004 (7th Cir. 2005); City of Lansing v. Carl Schlegel, Inc., 257 Mich. App. 627, 669 N.W. 2d 315 (Mich. Ct. App. 2003); Ohio Bldg & Constr. Trades v. Cuyahoga Co. Bd., 98 Ohio St. 3d 214, 2002 Ohio 7213, 781 N.E.2d 951 (Ohio 2002); Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. Minnetonka Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 276, No. C2-99-837, 1999 Minn. App (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 28, 1999); Queen City Construction, Inc. v. City of Rochester, 604 N.W.2d 368 (Minn. Ct. App. 1999); Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. Metro. Water Dist., 59 Cal. App. 4th 1503, 69 Cal. Rptr.2d 885 (Cal. Ct. App. 1997), superseded by grant of review, 72 Cal. Rptr. 2d 215, 951 P.2d 1182 (Cal. 1998), rev. dismissed, case remanded to Court of Appeal (Oct. 20, 1999); Conn. Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. Anson, No. CV-98-0579841-S, 1998 Conn. Super (Conn. Super. Ct. Oct. 26, 1998), affirmed, 251 Conn. 202, 740 A.2d 804 (1999); John T. Callahan & Sons, Inc. v. City of Malden, 430 Mass. 124, 713 N.E.2d 955 (Mass. 1999); Laborers Local No. 942 v. Lampkin, 956 P.2d 422 (Alaska 1998); Albany Specialties, Inc. v. County of Orange (Albany Specialties II), 240 A.D.2d 739, 662 N.Y.S.2d 773 (App. Div. 1997); Util. Contractors Association of New England, Inc. v. Mass. Dep't. of Public Works, 153 LRRM 2297 (Mass. Super. Ct. 1996); Enertech Electrical Inc. v. Mahoning County Commissioners, 85 F.3d 257 (6th Cir. 1996); Master Builders of Iowa, Inc. v. Polk County, 653 N.W.2d 382 (Iowa 2002); Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. v. San Francisco Airports Commission, 21 Cal. 4th 352, 87 Cal. Rptr. 2d 654, 981 P.2d 499 (Cal. 1999); Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. v. Southern Nevada Water Authority, 115 Nev. 151, 979 P.2d 224 (Nev. 1999); Jeferson County Board of Commissioners v. the State ex rel. Associated Builders and Contractors, 106 Ohio App. 3d 176, 665 N.E.2d 723 (Ohio Ct. App. 1995). A much more stringent PLA was at issue in Sossong v. Shaler Area School District, 945 A.2d 788 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008), petition for allowance of appeal denied, 600 Pa. 766, 967 A.2d 962 (2009), where a contractor sought a preliminary injunction enjoining a school district from awarding a contract for two school construction projects alleging that the use of a PLA by the school district when seeking bids prevented non-union contractors from bidding on the projects. The PLA precluded strikes, lockouts, work stoppages and any other disruptions of the work of the project, and required all contractors, both union and non-union, to sign and be bound by the terms of the PLA. It did not preclude any contractors, either union or non-union, from bidding on or being awarded the contract. However, it required all of the company's workers to join the union and the contractors to agree to abide by union contracts. In denying the request for an injunction, we relied on Pickett and the fact that the PLA stated that time was of the essence and that there would be no delays stating: "As in Pickett, because the PLA requirement is related to the need for prompt completion of the projects, the School District did not abuse its discretion by requiring that the lowest responsible bidder enter into the PLA." Sossong, 945 A.2d at 794.