Unions profiting from favoritism by Obama's GSA

Why is the federal General Services Administration, the government's purchasing agent and landlord, sending millions of tax dollars to unions? Last week, 19 members of Congress, including incoming House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sent a letter to Martha Johnson, administrator of the GSA, asking why it is forcing contractors that are refurbishing federal buildings to accept Project Labor Agreements. A PLA mandates the use of union labor on government construction projects, which translates to inflated costs, delays, and inflexible work rules.

The congressional letter was spurred by

Examiner columnist Mark Hemingway's report that the GSA had awarded a $52 million stimulus contract to renovate a Department of Veterans Affairs building, only to turn around and require the winning contractor to sign a PLA that adds at least $3.3 million to the project's cost. The agency, which received $6.6 billion in stimulus funds for construction projects, imposed the stipulation on the contractor after changing its policy from favoring low bidders to preferring contractors who agree to sign PLAs. This is a sop for a favored Obama constituency because only 14 percent of all construction workers are unionized. The unionized 14 percent now have what is probably an unconstitutional leg up on the nonunion 86 percent.

This PLA policy comes straight from the top. Obama signed Executive Order 13502 just 16 days after taking office, mandating PLAs whenever possible on government projects of $25 million or more. The Beacon Hill Institute, a free-market think tank at Suffolk University in Boston, reports that, on average, PLAs make construction projects 12 percent to 18 percent more expensive. When you consider that the stimulus bill had an estimated $180 billion in funding for construction projects, that is an awfully big favor for Obama's Big Labor friends. So is the requirement that stimulus-funded contracts comply with the Davis-Bacon Act, which mandates union-scale wages. Heritage Foundation labor policy expert James Sherk estimates that about $17 billion of the $180 billion could be saved if the Davis-Bacon requirement were lifted.

The GSA decision indicates it has been Christmas for the union bosses ever since Obama took office. He bailed out the moribund UAW, gutted Labor Department regulations requiring transparency of union finances, and now he is using PLAs to milk taxpayers for more dough to give to his biggest campaign contributors. Oh yes, Obama has also stopped meaningful oversight of union corruption. Under President Bush, the Department of Labor prosecuted more than 1,000 union officials, winning at least 929 convictions and $93 million in restitution to workers of misspent union funds. Obama's Labor Department was supposed to release a report tracking union corruption last January. Nearly a year later, the report remains undone. Issa and the incoming Republican House majority should make oversight of Obama's too-cozy relationship with Big Labor a top priority.

NEPOpinionUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and Save San Francisco Bay Association co-founders Esther Gulick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Kay Kerr watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents filled up a safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin in June 2020.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

A surplus of	mice on the Farallon Islands have caused banded burrowing owls to stay year round instead of migrating, longtime researchers say. <ins>(Courtesy Point Blue Conservation Science)</ins>
Farallon Islands researchers recommend eradicating mice

The Farallon Islands comprise three groups of small islands located nearly 30… Continue reading

Once we can come and go more freely, will people gather the way they did before COVID? <ins>(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)</ins>
What happens when the pandemic is over?

After experiencing initial excitement, I wonder just how much I’ll go out

Most Read