Dear Governor Shapiro,

The Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), Keystone Chapter, representing 30,000 Pennsylvanians in the labor workforce in 33 counties, must respond to your March 2024 announcement regarding Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). We recognize your strong support for labor organizations. However, we believe there can be an opportunity to build in Pennsylvania using both union and non-union employees. We must remind you that nearly 90 percent of all construction employees have made the choice not to join a union, so your continued comments and now stronger policy principles neglect an overwhelming majority of workers. In short, your stated policy direction focuses on a minority of the workforce while also ignoring the needs of nearly every worker in Pennsylvania. This also comes at a time when there is a growing worker shortage in Pennsylvania and the nation.

You state that PLAs should not outright discourage or encourage non-union contractors. Your statement is disingenuous because it neglects the function of a PLA, which is to force a non-union worker to participate in a union if they want to work. Any non-union contractor selected to do work under a PLA would not be able to use their own workforce as long as they are non-union. Instead, they will be compelled to use union labor or become a union shop. A construction worker that wants to work can only start work under a union contractor or be forced to temporarily act as a union member. The only other alternative is to be unemployed — which is not much of a choice. If a non-union construction worker goes along with a PLA, they are then forced to continue to be part of the union OR lose all the payments made towards the union pension when they end employment on the PLA project. To create a system where most of the workforce (open shop employees) has to make payments into a labor organization’s pension system that is not portable for the employee is absolutely state-endorsed wage theft.

We ask that you read and respond to this letter with the same spirit that you espouse when you say you want to get things done, want a “people-powered Commonwealth” and encourage more reaching across the aisle for bipartisanship. Please reach out to those of us that represent the employees you are impacting with this policy direction for PLAs. Please don’t just work in the echo chamber of the labor organizations that may laud these announcements. They are not representative of all workers.

To truly understand how this affects the employees that ultimately are the subject of such PLAs, we request responses to the following:

• In reading your press statement and letter to state agencies, we are unclear to what capital projects you envision applying PLAs. In the midst of state budget negotiations that include an incredible number of capital projects – will all those under the capital budget be subject to this direction for state agencies?

• How exactly will the Department of General Services (DGS) “partner” with other state agencies?

• How will you reach out to the thousands of merit shop contractors and non-union construction workers to understand how this monumental shift in procurement will work and affect them? It is fragmented and confusing to expect that answer to be included in each individual PLA when there is clearly an overarching policy vision driving this approach.

We recognize that you have a strong commitment to Pennsylvania’s labor organizations which will not change. We ask these questions and raise these points as there are more Pennsylvanians you have an obligation to communicate with and govern to advance Pennsylvania’s prosperity. If we can have a deeper conversation or provide more insight to our questions please contact our Government Affairs Director, Jim Willshier (