Florida unions and the state AFL-CIO are rallying against anti-worker legislation they believe is designed to “elbow them out” of local construction markets. The bills, which are moving quickly through the legislature, would prohibit Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and local hiring ordinances. They are currently in committee where labor has been testifying to the importance of these worker protections for both industry and local economies.
Rep. Charles Van Zant is sponsoring the anti-PLA measure, HB 527. He does not want the agreements used on state funded projects and wishes to specifically prohibit local governments from requiring contractors to agree to predetermined wages, staffing levels, or employee benefits. In committee, Van Zant’s bill was defended by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a notorious anti-worker lobby. In the 2012 campaign cycle, the ABC was the second largest contributor to Van Zant’s campaign after Van Zant himself.
Those in favor of the bill argued to the House Local Government Affairs Subcommittee that PLAs hurt their businesses because they require them to hire workers from certain zip codes and pay decent wages.
The AFL-CIO’s Rich Templin defended PLAs, arguing that they are necessary on large projects with several contractors. “At some point you have to say, ‘How is everyone going to mesh together?,” he asked.
Another bill threatens Florida construction worker livelihood by prohibiting local hiring requirements. The bill, HB 113, is sponsored by state Rep. Keith Perry. Again, the ABC’s donations appear to be playing a role. According to Ballotpedia, the ABC was among Perry’s top contributors in 2012. Just like HB 527, HB 113 has cleared two committee hearings and will likely come to a vote this legislative session. The AFL-CIO’s Kevin Templin argued that local hiring ordinances protect local contractors.
“What this bill does is takes away a vital tool for local economic development. It wipes that away for the big guys.”
The anti-HB 113 argument is being supported by Florida League of Cities and Florida Association of Counties. Roughly 80 Florida cities currently give preference to local contractors.