Northwest NEWS

June 14, 1999

Editorial

Every worker has the right to work on public projects

   I seriously thought the days of paying "protection money" were relinquished to the history books. Now I see those days are back.

   Unions, losing market share in the private sector, are attempting to debar non-union labor on public works projects through extortion-like tactics. If the Sound Transit caves in to pressure from the union, our transit light rail projects will have to be completed by union workers only.

   This method of contracting is called a Public Labor Agreement (P.L.A.) The victims of P.L.A.s are the taxpayers, because P.L.A.s can increase the cost of a project by as much as 26%. On the $2 billion Light Rail Project, 26% is not petty cash.

   To offset the added cost to public projects using P.L.A.s, union officials promise that there will be no delays due to strikes, but even that is untrue. Just last month, the Carpenters Union walked off the San Francisco Airport expansion, demanding an increase of $10 per hour and every other Friday off. A P.L.A. was supposed to prevent that; obviously, this is an empty promise. The taxpayers are now asked to cough up more money with no real guarantee that strikes will not happen.

   An even greater affront to our collective conscience is the fact that non-union workers, whose taxes are paying for the Sound Transit Project, will have to pay union dues if they are to work on a P.L.A. project. Since most of them receive their benefits through their employer and will not be vested to receive a pension, they will be paying homage to the union for the right to work on a public job. That would be a win-win for the union but a lose-lose for the non-union workers in our state.

   Do not let the Sound Transit Board succumb to the old mob-style tactics of the unions. Every worker in this state deserves the opportunity to work on public work projects.

Honorable Mike Sherstad, Bothell