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Job Corps delay ended: Another blow to labor/Dem axis

June 09. 2012 11:47PM

Just before the country got the good news that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had won his recall election, thereby winning a decisive victory for the taxpayers over the public-sector unions hoping to bleed them dry, Manchester received some similar good news of its own.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor dropped its requirement that the new Job Corps Center in Manchester be governed by a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). That is a rule that essentially requires the use of union labor on a construction project. About 80 percent of contractors are not unionized. PLAs force contractors to submit to union rules and pay scales, thus removing a big competitive advantage non-union contractors have over unionized rivals. The department required the PLA back in 2009. Several contractors sued, and the project has been held up ever since.

Ironically, President Obama's Feb. 6, 2009, executive order commanding that PLAs be considered for all federal construction projects of $25 million or more stated that the purpose of using PLAs was 'to promote the efficient administration and completion of federal construction projects.'

Obama claimed that he wanted the PLAs because construction projects typically involve multiple work crews, and disputes about pay and other issues can delay project completion. He was simply concerned about speed and efficiency, he wrote.

That was a smoke screen. The PLA order was a political repayment to unions that had helped Obama get elected only three months earlier.

Because of that political payoff, Manchester's Job Corps Center has been delayed for three years. The center itself is unnecessary and will remove prime city land from the tax rolls. But if it is going to be built, at least now it will be done at a lower cost to the taxpayers, and will involve more local rather than Boston contractors.

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