Contractors sue Biden over project labour agreements rule

President Joe Biden speaking about the new contract between the International Longshoreman’s Union and the Pacific Maritime Association on 6 September 2023 (Carlos Vazquez/The White House/Public domain)
US employers group the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and its Louisiana chapter filed suit this week in federal court to block the Biden administration’s effort to mandate project labour agreements (PLAs) for major federal construction projects.

They say the president lacks the legal and constitutional authority to impose what they called “such sweeping labour policies that undermine current labour agreements for union firms and discriminate against open shop contractors”.

On 18 December the administration announced a final rule implementing the president’s executive order 14063 requiring PLAs for federally-funded construction projects valued at $35m and above.

They would require contractors to engage in pre-hire collective bargaining negotiations.

The White House said the rule would help ensure federal projects “are completed efficiently and on time, while also supporting high quality jobs”, calling the measure “a key pillar of Bidenomics”.

“This new regulation is an unlawful solution in search of a nonexistent problem,” said AGC chief executive Stephen E. Sandherr.

“Current law prohibits the president from unilaterally imposing labour and employment terms that would disrupt existing agreements for union contractors and exclude open shop firms from competing for federal projects.”

The AGC added that the new regulation would undermine existing collective bargaining agreements for union contractors.

It filed its suit on 10 January in the US District Court for Western Louisiana.

In November the AGC sued Biden for his attempt to expand the the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which governs wage rates on federally-funded projects (see further reading).

Further Reading:

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