The San Diego Union-Tribune posted an article on July 28, 2015 by columnist Steven Greenhut arguing that Project Labor Agreements would increase the cost of school construction in California. Along with his article, Greenhut listed several questionable sources including a study done by The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). This group is anti-union and paid for the study that Greenhut cited in his article. Soon after the article came out State Building and Construction Trades President, Robbie Hunter responded with sources of his own on the merits of PLA’s in the community. According to Hunter, the study that Greenhut stated in his column was bought and paid for by the ABC and the information collected by Dr. Dale Belman of Michigan State University was completely misrepresented. According to Belman with the proper supervision, there are no statistical difference between the cost of PLA projects and non-PLA projects.
In his article, Greenhut stated that PLAs only help union members. Hunter debunked that by asserting that both union and non-union companies bid on PLA projects citing several large agreements including $22 billion for the Los Angeles Unified School District, $11 billion construction program for the Los Angeles Community College, and $15 billion program for the Los Angeles Airport. These are all non-union agreements and according to research up to 40% of the PLA projects go to non-union companies. Greenhut and the ABC claim that 84% of construction contractors are non-union Hunter represents facts, citing that they represent 400,000 union construction workers in California and 95% of all apprentices registered in state-approved apprenticeship programs. PLA are good for the community as they give us highly skilled workers who produce better quality results. Although not everyone is on the same page the facts are there. San Diego School Districts have voted unanimously to continue using PLAs, former anti-PLA board members of another school district have changed their minds after seeing the benefits of using them, and SB 829 a bill protecting PLAs has been approved by the assembly in California.