Project Labor Agreements

A project labor agreement (PLA), or project stabilization agreement (PSA)  is a contract between the owner or managing entity of a construction project and a set of labor unions. It operates much like a “job-site constitution,” establishing worksite conditions, project execution and protocol to resolve labor disputes without resorting to strikes and lockouts. Most PLAs include community workforce goals that increase access to construction jobs for veterans, local residents, disadvantaged workers, and small businesses.

Video Courtesy of the California State Building and Construction Trades

Community Workforce Provisions in Project Labor Agreeements
Maria Figueroa, Jeff Grabelsky, and Ryan Lamar
This study by Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School examined 185 project labor agreements around the country. It found that 97 percent contained community workforce provisions that are designed to open job opportunity doors and career training for residents in the communities where the construction projects take place.

Project Labor Agreements in Iowa: An Important Tool for Managing Complex Public Construction Projects
Ralph Scharnau & Michael F. Sheehan, The Iowa Policy Project
“Public-sector construction projects in Iowa serve three important public functions. They provide direct services through the building of schools, hospitals, police stations, highways and similar projects. Second, spending on these projects stimulates economic development and creates jobs. And third, they improve the ability of the public infrastructure to deliver services that help to generate income for other Iowa producers.”

Project Labor Agreements – A Home Run for Your Community
Bill Rickman, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
The report summarizes a series of in-depth interviews conducted with people responsible for choosing PLAs for construction projects throughout California.

The Effect of Project Labor Agreements on the Cost of School Construction
Dale Belman, PhD, Michigan State University, Russell Ormiston, Michigan State University, William Schriver, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Richard Kelso, University of Tennessee Knoxville
The paper investigates the impact of Project Labor Agreements on school construction costs in New England.


Constructing California: A Review of Project Labor Agreements

This study by Kimberly Johnstons-Dodds was prepared at the request of Senator John L. Burton, President Pro Tempore in October 2001. This report offers a comprehensive analysis of PLA’s in California.



CPI FAQ on Project Stabilization Agreements
Corrine Wilson
This factsheet answers questions about PLAs also known as Construction Careers Project Stabilization Agreements and the Memorandum sites statistics about the benefits and uses of such agreements.


CPI Memorandum on Project Stabilization Agreements
Corinne Wilson
This Memorandum by CPI cites statistics about the benefits and uses of Construction Careers Project Stabilization Agreements .


Evaluating PLA Performance? Studies find project labor agreements offer many benefits supporters claim
Peter A. Cockshaw
Peter Cockshaw outlines Daniel Rounds’ UCLA study that challenged Beacon Hill’s findings.


Construction: Working Without a Healthcare Net
Murtaza Baxamusa
This paper analyzes the lack of health coverage inside the construction industry at the peak of the construction boom, in 2005, in California.


Project Labor Agreements in New York State II: In the Public Interest and Of Proven Value
Fred B. Kotler
This report is a follow-up to the earlier Cornell ILR report, Project Labor Agreements in New York State: In the Public Interest, issued in March 2009. There has been a significant increase in the authorization and use of PLAs for both public and private sector work during the intervening two years – particularly for New York City and, generally, throughout New York State. PLAs now govern the labor relations for a broad scope of projects involving tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure, new construction, and renovation work. The current report details how and why these agreements are serving the interests of taxpayers, businesses, communities, as well as the construction industry and workforce.

Helping LA Grow Together: Why the Community Redevelopment Agency Should Adopt the Construction Careers Policy
Sharon Delugach and Raahi Reddy
The report documents the challenges of poverty and unemployment in Los Angeles and the role the Community Redevelopment Agency can play by adopting a local hire program in partnership with the building trades council as a means to link low-income residents to career-path jobs.

Making Development Work for Local Residents: Local Hire Programs and Implementation Strategies that Serve Low-Income Residents
Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel. Partnership for Working Families
The report analyzes effectiveness of community benefits programs and concludes that local hire requirements are critical as concrete mechanisms for ensuring that low-income neighborhoods benefit from public investment.


Legal Considerations Affecting the Use of Public Sector Project Labor Agreements: A Proponent’s View
Bradford W. Coupe, Esq., Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Coupe makes the case the PLAs are an effective tool for labor relations: “There is nothing inherently wrong with PLAs in the public sector. They have a well-established place in the law and in the effective performance of the projects to which they have been applied. The use of legal process should be saved for the bona fide abuses of the competitive bidding laws and not become the vehicle for waging a campaign rooted in the wholesale elimination of public sector PLAs.”


History of Project Labor Agreements
John T. Dunlop, Harvard University
The study provides a history of Project Labor Agreements and their purpose in the construction industry dating back to the post-war era after World War II.


Building Opportunity: Investing in Our Future through a Port Construction Careers Policy
Jackie Cornejo, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
This report compiles relevant research to lay out the best case for a Project Labor Agreement on the Port of Los Angeles. The report also features a foreword from leading scholar Peter Philips, who is Professor and Chair of the University of Utah Department of Economics.


Memo from Contra Costa County Director of General Services Regarding PLAs
Bart Gilbert, Director of General Services
A memo from the Contra Costa County Director of General Services reporting that bids for five of the eight projects subject to the PLA policy were lower than the architect/engineer cost estimate.


The Working Uninsured: Uninsurance Rates within California Industries and Occupations, Part 2
Center on Policy Initiatives
A pamphlet outlining the statistics on insurance rates and the lack of insured workers within California industries.


Project Labor Agreements in New York State: In the Public Interest
Fred B. Kotler, J.D., Cornell University
A report studying the background and legal standards for the appropriate use of PLAs and the benefits they offer for workforce and economic development. The study also tests the validity of the claim that PLAs drive up construction costs.