9/19/2012: A1:PC: Jim Person, a Safety Manager for Western Water is against Planned Labor Agreements (PLA's) during a meeting of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, Tuesday August 18, 2012. The board is in the process of debating the awarding of large construction projects to PLA's. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

Close to Home: Project labor agreements are bad policy, costly to county

As local contractors who stand opposed to this scheme, we can tell you that project labor agreements increase the cost of the project. The most comprehensive study ever conducted on project labor agreements show that many of us won't bid for work covered by one because of the money that is lost to our employees. This study, conducted by National University, looked at more than 500 school construction projects in California. Accounting for all variables, the study conclusively found that a project that was covered by a project labor agreement was 13-15 percent more expensive than a project that wasn't.

Why should our taxpayer-funded projects be subjected to cost increases? Why should working families' take-home pay be reduced from being forced to pay fees to the union? We should not subject our workers to a lower standard of living just to placate the demands of special interests who believe that only those who belong to certain groups should get to work on taxpayer-funded projects.

Our workers have earned the right to be treated equally based on their experience and capability -#8212; period.

The Sonoma County supervisors have a chance on Tuesday to do what they did 16 months ago when they chose not to approve a project labor agreement on the airport. And that is to let this fiscally and morally questionable experiment die the death it deserves while allowing freedom of association and an open- bidding process to continue in our county, saving workers and taxpayers money.

Monica Soiland Nelson is president of the North Coast Builders Exchange. Ken Kreischer is a member of the Coalition to Stop Project Labor Agreements.

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