Project Labor Agreements

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs): Leveling the Playing Field and Streamlining Construction Projects

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are an essential tool used to set employment terms on a jobsite. PLAs lead to safer jobsites, higher wages, and fair benefits for UA members – and better outcomes for contractors, end users, and communities. 

The basics:

  • Setting the Terms: Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are single-site collective bargaining agreements between building trades unions and site contractors that govern terms and conditions of employment for all craft labor on a designated construction project.
  • Highest Quality Labor: PLAs promote safe jobsites, high quality standards, and cost-effective delivery for end users by providing project owners with reliable access to the best trained and most highly skilled workforce in the industry.
  • Extensive Use in Major Markets: PLAs are used by public and private project owners alike, including companies like Toyota, General Motors, Boeing, Inland Steel, and Arco – meaning several hundred billion dollars are governed by PLAs.
  • History of Success: Projects built under PLAs are often completed on time and on budget, with a strong track record of safety and quality standards. More than 21 major economic studies and analyses from independent agencies and universities confirm that projects under PLAs are more successful than projects completed without PLAs.
  • Toyota has used PLAs successfully to build multiple production facilities in the U.S. According to Jeff Caldwell, former Assistant General Manager for Plant Engineering: “[T]he proof is in the results. Toyota’s North American construction costs are roughly one-third less than other major automobile manufacturers who eschew the use of [PLAs]." 
  • A 2011 Cornell University study documented numerous public-sector PLAs in New York since 2009 which produced, or were projected to produce, costs savings ranging from 4.88 percent to 19.52 percent of project costs.
  • Community Investment: PLAs utilize the local workforce, and often include specific local hire provisions, in addition to the economic investment that comes with local construction projects.
  • Future Workforce Development: The United Association’s gold-standard registered apprenticeship program utilizes an “Earn-while-you-learn” model – meaning projects utilizing PLAs provide valuable career and technical education opportunities to workers hired on to the projects.

The Bottom Line – PLAs are Good for Your Bottom Line: Project owners, community members, and skilled craftsmen and craftswomen all agree that the use of PLAs are good for everyone involved. Workers earn fair wages and benefits, communities enjoy robust economic investment, and project owners see projects completed quickly and to the highest standards of safety and quality.