Wisconsin, once a bastion of “progressivism,” continues to make policy shifts that would enrage “Fighting Bob” La Follette.
On Monday, Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 3. The legislation bans government from adopting project labor agreements. That means public-sector entities soliciting bids for construction can no longer “enter into, adhere to, or enforce any agreement that requires, as a condition of employment, that the bidder or bidder’s employees become or remain members of, or be affiliated with, a labor organization or pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges or expenses of any kind or amount, or provide anything of value, to a labor organization or a labor organization’s health, welfare, retirement, or other benefit plan or program.”
According to Walker: “Accountable government means ensuring our taxpayers receive quality service. By forbidding state and local governments from requiring contractors to enter into agreements with labor organizations, we’re promoting healthy competition between contractors. At the end of the day, this means the contractor ultimately chosen for the project is the one that has demonstrated excellent service and will work at good value for Wisconsin taxpayers.”
It’s a pipe dream, given the current makeup of the legislature, but it would be nice to see such a ban enacted in New Mexico. As the sign above, outside the Loma Colorado Main Library in Rio Rancho, indicates, the Land of Enchantment is far from immune from the union-rewarding sweetheart deals.
As the New Mexico chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors noted, PLAs “increase construction costs by as much as 20 percent,” and discriminate against the vast majority of the state’s contractors, which are not unionized. Lawmakers who claim to be concerned about the fiscal crises facing government at all levels in our state should follow Wisconsin’s lead.
Public-employee compensation reforms, repealing most of the state’s prevailing-wage mandate, a right-to-work law, and now, a PLA ban? The Badger State continues to move forward on key fiscal/economic innovations. Can New Mexico make the same claim?