Augusta, Maine- The two leading construction associations in Maine have launched a public campaign against a project labor agreement on a natural gas pipeline project being developed by Summit Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Summit Utilities out of Colorado. The Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine and Associated General Contractors of Maine are opposing the agreement based on fact that it will discriminate against a large majority of Maine construction workers.
Construction on the project, which will span 88 miles from Augusta to Madison, is expected to begin this spring. Summit Natural Gas has confirmed that they will utilize a project labor agreement on the project, which will require contractors to become signatory to union labor agreements in order to execute the work.
Project labor agreements, or PLAs, create a cost environment that favors union contractors, restricting competition and driving up costs. In Maine, an estimated 1.4% of construction workers in the industry are union workers. The use of a PLA has the effect of discriminating against all open shop employees or 98.6% of Maine’s construction workforce. By excluding 98.6% of Maine contractors from the bidding process, use of a PLA nearly ensures that the work will be bid on and awarded to out of state companies and workers. Furthermore, Maine subcontractors who wish to do work on this project will also be required to sign union agreements, even if their company chooses to be open-shop.
Should the PLA be lifted, union and open-shop contractors would both have the equal opportunity to bid on the project.
“We are glad that Summit has chosen to do business here in Maine, but we are firm in our commitment to educate the public about the negative impact that their project labor agreement will have on Maine’s construction industry,” said Hope Perkins, President & CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine.
“Fair competition is our goal, it is that simple. Regardless of union affiliation the award should be based on merit in the bid process. I believe Maine companies should be allowed to compete on all parts of the project and encourage Summit to reconsider their current approach,” said AGC Maine CEO Matthew Marks
Combined, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine and Associated General Contractors of Maine represent over 375 construction and construction related firms in Maine.