Resources

Client Alerts, News Articles, Blog Posts, & Multimedia

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Are You Impacted by the Project Labor Agreement Executive Order?

A primer on PLAs and what you need to know

What are Project Labor Agreements? 

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are a quasi-collective bargaining agreement between employers and unions. They establish the terms and conditions of employment, including dispute resolution. They are put into place on specific projects and apply to the contractor, whether it is union or non-union. Employees hired on the project will be treated as union. 

Why do I need to know about Project Labor Agreements? 

President Biden, on February 4, 2022, issued an executive order mandating that all federal construction projects valued at $35 million or more must use a PLA. The terms of the PLA will apply to all contractors associated with the project. 

What was the purpose for the Executive Order? 

According to the President’s order, the purposes of the PLA mandate are to improve timeliness, lower costs, increase quality, implement consistent labor terms, and establish a common dispute resolution mechanism. 

Why are PLAs mandated now? 

PLAs have been encouraged (but not required) since 2009 on federal construction projects worth $25 million or more. However, PLAs were infrequently used under the Obama administration, and never under the Trump administration. Biden has repeatedly promised measures to increase union membership, and this executive order falls in line with that goal. 

Are there overall problems with PLAs?

Historically, PLAs diminish competition. Many contractors, including most small contractors and subcontractors, have not had any experience dealing with unions and collective bargaining agreements. The non-union contractors will stay away from projects with PLAs.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 86% of people working in construction in 2021 were either not a member of a union or not represented by a union. If the non-union contractors and subs avoid the federal projects, the level of pricing competition will be significantly diminished. Additionally, with the limited availability of construction workers in general, it will be difficult to overcome the labor shortage by disincentivizing contractor participation.  The executive order allows for exceptions in unusual and compelling situations, such as the lack of bidders. 

What are practical problems with PLAs? 

A PLA implements a set of rules which must be followed in directing your workforce. That set of rules can be simple or can be comprehensive. The enforcement of the rules by the trade unions can be informal or can be strict and demanding. The overall relationship with the trade unions can be mutually beneficial or can be adversarial.  The problem is that, nonunion employers and PLA newbies will not know what disruptions a PLA can cause. 

What should contractors consider with PLAs?

Many projects with PLAs go through bidding to completion without any issues whatsoever. Others have on-going disruptions, followed by unionization efforts at the conclusion of the project. 

For contractors who are willing to enter into PLAs in exchange for the federal construction work, the expected limit of competition should lead to higher bids which would alleviate the potential disruption of a PLA. 

Additionally, PLAs should be negotiated by the project manager or general contractor. Ordinarily, those entities will have experience with the trade unions and can negotiate common sense provisions. 

Finally, many PLAs are not too disruptive. The most important provisions are on wages, benefits, hours of work and overtime. The standard deviation between union and non-union is rarely severe. 

As long as a contractor understands the terms of the PLA, negotiates best terms when applicable, and always maximizes the benefits, it can be used to the contractor’s benefit. 

For additional information on Project Labor Agreements or any Labor + Employment matters, please contact Jeffrey C. Miller, jcmiller@bmdllc.com, 216.658.2323 or any member of the BMD L+E Team.

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.

Property Owner Protection from Tax Valuation Challenges

New legislation provides significant new protections for commercial property owners against challenges to valuation primarily by local school boards and prohibiting side agreements to avoid tax valuation changes. The Ohio Legislature has approved House Bill 126 which will go into effect July 2022 but will effectively apply to the 2023 tax valuation year.