Project Labor Agreement (PLA)

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) have been around since WWI and are becoming increasingly more popular when constructing major projects. PLAs are arguably the most important change in labor – management relations in the construction industry in recent years. While most private projects of any size have been constructed under PLAs for years, now there are approximately 25% of the tax dollars spent on public works projects through PLAs.
A PLA is a contractually binding agreement negotiated between a construction project owner, developer, and the Building and Trades labor unions. It is a form of pre-hire agreement, negotiated before any employees are hired, and becomes part of the bid specification that all winning contractors must follow. Once negotiated, the PLA remains effective for the duration of the project. While the language of every PLA is different, PLA's typically guarantee uniform wages, work rules, and benefits across the multiple crafts employed on a project. In addition, PLA’s provide grievance procedures for settling disputes, include no-strike and no-lockout provisions, and usually require that workers be hired through local union halls. In a few instances PLA’s have allowed contractors to keep all of their regular employees or a percentage of them based upon how many are hired from the Union hall without requiring that they join the union.
History of PLA's
The PLA’s represents an organizational tool designed to manage the uncertainties and complexities of large-scale construction projects, to the mutual benefit of all the contracting parties. Project Labor Agreements have been used in the construction industry since the 1930’s and 1940’s on large public and private projects such as hydroelectric dams and atomic energy facilities. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, they were used in the construction of Disney World and the Alaska Pipeline along with other private and public sector projects. The Federal General Accounting Office (GAO) reports that PLA’s have been used in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, those PLA’s entered into by government agencies during the first half of the twentieth century typically sought to establish uniform labor standards without imposing requirements that workers on a project belong to a union.


The PLA must contain the following five articles 

  a)  Clearly defined scope  of work                                                       
  b)  Dispute and grievance resolution procedures       
  c)  Resolution of jurisdictional disputes  language                        
  d) Subcontracting language 
  e) helmet to hard hat language