Another US builders’ association sues Biden over PLAs

After signalling such a move last December, the US Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC) and its Florida state chapter announced on 28 March it filed a lawsuit against US President Joe Biden’s administration over it’s mandating of Public Labor Agreements (PLA) on federal construction projects.

The White House, USA The White House in Washington DC, US. (Image: Adobe Stock)

Near the end of 2023, Biden released his final rule on an executive order that made mandatory the use of PLAs for federal projects costing more than US$35 million.

Project Labor Agreements, also known as Community Workforce Agreements, are US federal government pre-hire collective bargaining agreements that establish terms and conditions for a specific federal construction project. Projects mandated by a PLA in the US typically necessitate the use of unionised firms, contractors, and workers. PLAs may also control, among other details specific to each case, the wages paid and benefits provided to workers and timelines for the project.

ABC called PLAs ‘anti-competitive’ following the release of the executive order.

Another US-based trade association – Associated General Contracts of America (AGC) – filed a similar lawsuit in January with a state chapter in Louisiana.

ABC called the order “unlawful” and its complaint asserted that Biden lacks the “legal and constitutional authority” to impose it. The organisation said it believes the order ‘illegally steers construction contracts to certain unionised contractors’. ABC said union contractors employ approximately 10% of the country’s construction workforce.

The organisation estimated the PLA policy will affect at least 180 federal construction contracts valued at $16 billion on an annual basis, “including several federal construction contracts for projects in Jacksonville and dozens of projects in Florida and the Southeast.”

ABC estimated that mandated PLAs increase construction costs by 12% to 20%.

Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labour and state affairs, said, “ABC has heard from large and small federal contractors — including firms signatory to union agreements — and concerned federal agency contracting officers that the Biden administration’s controversial PLA policy has already stifled competition and raised costs on federal construction contracts in Florida and across the country.”

ABC and its Florida First Coast chapter filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville.


Receive the information you need when you need it through our world-leading magazines, newsletters and daily briefings.

Sign up

Andy Brown Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786224 E-mail: [email protected]
Neil Gerrard Senior Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 7355 092 771 E-mail: [email protected]
Catrin Jones Deputy Editor, Editorial, UK – Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 791 2298 133 E-mail: [email protected]
Eleanor Shefford Brand Manager Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786 236 E-mail: [email protected]