Contact: Jim Willshier
Director of Government Affairs
(717) 653-8106 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 29, 2023
Attention Legislators: Contractors are Responsible!
State and local officials have recently been talking about “responsible contractors” and holding them accountable through legislation. Unfortunately, the policies in local municipalities and the state House of Representatives cause more harm than good, and the general public recognizes that impact.
Associated Builders & Contractors, Keystone Chapter engaged with Susquehanna Polling & Research to do a statewide poll of 700 registered voters in October to gauge their view on key issues within these policies that purport to make construction more responsible. As individuals responded to questions on the core aspects of responsible contractor ordinances (RCOs), the overwhelming majority stated that these policies do not align with their values or help construction industry safety.
ABC Keystone will follow up separately to highlight the failure of responsible contractor ordinances that have resulted in a few bids that exceed budget. For now, we want to highlight public opinion to show legislators that their constituents do not support the direction of their policy.
RCO proponents claim that local ordinances or legislation like House Bill 1449 are needed to keep construction sites safe and accountable – which ABC could agree as a goal – unfortunately, no local ordinance or state legislation includes a measurement for safe construction. This glaring problem makes it impossible to track whether the legislation is meeting its goal or objectively showing that it can prevent a poor contractor from bidding on projects. ABC Keystone is one of many contractor organizations that advocate using an experienced modification rate (EMR), an insurance rating to show if a contractor is safe. This is readily available information accessible to all contractors based on their experience. Yet, no local official or unions supporting this legislation want to include EMR to hold anyone accountable. When the public is asked their opinion, an overwhelming majority, nearly 80 percent, agree that EMR should be used for accountability if anyone is serious about responsible and safe construction.
ABC Keystone is critical of RCOs or any policy that presents itself as advocating for safety without having something comparable to EMR in place to ensure that it rewards those acting safely and prevents any bad actors from bidding on projects. To date, proponents of RCOs have not been able to justify the exclusion of EMR, which contradicts the public interest.
RCOs also heavily emphasize the use of registered apprentices on construction worksites by explicitly requiring that a majority of the workforce be enrolled or complete such an apprentice program. Unfortunately, by disincentivizing anyone who has graduated from a technical college or has years of experience, the policy shows that it needs to be more balanced as it moves in the opposite direction of an inclusive workforce that also needs to include the value of a diverse, experienced workforce.
When voters are asked if they believe that construction projects should include registered apprenticeship as one of many educational options for a career path, 70 percent believe that all paths should be encouraged. Again, this shows the public strongly disagrees with RCOs’ direction in narrowing career paths to only registered apprenticeships. RCO’s reliance on apprenticeship also contradicts Governor Shapiro’s widely supported approach of being open to all workers by suspending college education for state workers or state police cadets. ABC Keystone strongly believes that the workforce should include every possible path for a successful worker.
While ABC has a highly successful apprentice program, we recognize many valuable educational opportunities in Pennsylvania’s colleges and seasoned workers who have successful experience but have not been involved in apprenticeship should be given equal opportunity to work. the construction industry should embrace all educational paths, but RCOs intentionally force a one-size-fits-all approach with education requirements.
RCO policy is also silent on how few apprentice programs are available in Pennsylvania and that some aspects of construction still need an apprentice program. There is not enough apprentice program capacity or locations available statewide to even come close to the demand RCOs would place on the workforce if that were a supported path for workers.
ABC Keystone believes in the strongest regards that there must be high standards for safety and excellence in construction. Policies such as RCOs need to meet that result. Our organization is more than willing to work with any policy-makers to craft legislation that will move the industry forward and encourage those legislators to talk with their constituents about the impact that these policies have in practice.
The Keystone Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) is a construction trade association based in Manheim, Pennsylvania, representing over 650 construction-related firms and nearly 30,000 employees. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 68 chapters nation-wide help members win work and deliver that work safely, ethically, and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work. Visit us at abckeystone.otion rate (EMR), an insurance rating to show if a contractor is safe. This is readily available information accessible to all contractors based on their experience. Yet, no local official or unions supporting this legislation want to include EMR to hold anyone accountable. When the public is asked their opinion, an overwhelming majority, nearly 80 percent, agree that EMR should be used for accountability if anyone is serious about responsible and safe construction.