UBC Lobbying Helps Win Pro-Carpenter Votes on Military Construction

Washington, May 31 -- Forceful lobbying by UBC members and political staff helped secure late-night votes in the House of Representatives ensuring that U.S. military construction will continue to treat union bidders and workers fairly.

Our victories came on two amendments to the massive FY 2013 appropriations bill for military and Veterans Affairs, which includes all construction funding. The amendments concerned Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and Davis-Bacon prevailing-wage protections.

Political directors and members from numerous UBC Councils flew in to Washington to join national UBC staff and numerous other forces for two days of direct lobbying that helped to reverse a ban on PLAs that had narrowly passed in the original bill, and to defeat the latest anti-Davis-Bacon effort.

The first vote was 218-198 to restore the ability of military construction projects to use PLAs. The original bill, passed just last week by a two-vote margin, had prohibited any PLA language in project bidding.  PLAs ensure uninterrupted workflow on large projects by requiring unions and detailed work assignments for an entire project.

The second vote defeated yet another conservative proposal to prevent enforcement of Davis-Bacon laws  Worker-friendly forces won that roll call—as they have with dozens of similar union-busting attempts—in this case, by a margin of 237-180. Davis-Bacon requires that “prevailing wages” be paid on federally funded construction work—wages that are close to union scale and thus make union bidders competitive against bidders who would otherwise underpay their workers.

The importance of UBC nonpartisan politics showed once again in these votes, as the pro-PLA majority included not only 184 Democrats, but also 34 Republican friends who have been steadily committed to fair treatment for union construction workers, especially Davis-Bacon wage protections.