Labor Law Guy

Coming Soon to a Stimulus Project Near You: Endless Waste

Posted in Federal Labor Law, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on March 16, 2009

If you thought that four years late and $350 million over budget for the largely unneeded U.S. Capitol Visitor Center was bad, wait till you see what the projects flowing from the recent $787 billion stimulus package will cost.

The 1931 David-Bacon Act (which obviously did nothing to shorten or alleviate the Great Depression) provides that contractors for government construction projects pay a “prevailing wage” to all employees. The prevailing wage–natch–is set by the government itself, and with the Obama people running things, only Karl Marx himself knows how high that can go.

Davis-Bacon was enshrined and expanded to cover virtually everything in the recent stimulus package, so the sewer next to you might end up costing 300 percent of what it would normally cost on the open market.

Wait, it gets better. Not only is Davis-Bacon being married to stimulus projects, but Obama has issued an executive order requiring project labor agreements (PLAs)  for major construction projects, currently those costing $25 million or more, but surely and shortly to be lowered by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who has authority over such matters.

PLAs require contractors to accede to all union demands regarding work rules, working conditions, pay, hiring (which must be done in union hiring halls), and union dues (which must be paid even by non-union members). A PLA was and is  in place for the infamous Big Dig in Boston, which the Boston Globe projects will cost at least $22 billion, after being budgeted at $6 billion, and not be paid off until at least 2038.

Now, the irony here is that it’s Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care medical program that the Obamaites are hoping to copy for the rest of us, and that plan makes the cost overruns of the Big Big pale in comparison.

Why does this seem like deja Great Depression all over again?

The Road to ‘Armageddon’ Starts Today

Posted in Federal Labor Law by laborlawguy on March 10, 2009

Sources at Personnel Concepts indicate that the much-feared-by-business Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will be introduced in the House of Representatives today.

Well, nothing new here. EFCA made it through the House’s 435 members once before and passed with flying colors, but its fate in the Senate may be another matter altogether. Just today, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Labor Bill Faces Threat in Senate” because of some suddenly wavering Democratic support.

Whether this wavering is just posturing or temporary remains to be seen, but EFCA does require 60 votes in the Senate to pass. Without 60 votes, a bill can be filibustered into extinction, which is exactly what the Republicans would gladly do to this piece of legislation.

EFCA, also called “card check” because it does away with the requirement for secret-ballot unionization votes and makes certification by majority signatures possible, has come under a withering attack from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which called it “Armageddon”) and other business groups. Even Obama supporter and billionaire investor Warren Buffett came out against EFCA in a CNBC interview yesterday.

Time will tell what happens to EFCA, but I’m sure the folks at Personnel Concepts will keep us up to date with its news alerts.