Fair and Open Competition Act sponsored by Young to restore construction competition

To increase competition and save taxpayer dollars, U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) on Feb. 24 unveiled legislation to ensure that the federal government cannot mandate project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects, a measure endorsed by numerous construction and business organizations.

“With a majority of America’s private construction workers not a part of a union, government-mandated PLAs are inherently unfair,” Sen. Young said. “The federal government should not pick winners and losers — especially in awarding contracts. Our bill offers a simple solution that will lower costs for taxpayers and restore competition in the construction industry, particularly while our workforce is hurting during this pandemic.” 

Sen. Young sponsored the Fair and Open Competition Act, S. 403, with original cosponsor U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) to preserve open competition and federal government neutrality toward the labor relations of federal government contractors on federal and federally funded construction projects, according to the text of the bill.

Specifically, the bill says that the head of each executive agency that awards, enters into, or obligates funds for any construction contract shall ensure that whomever is acting on behalf of the federal government in its bid specifications, project agreements, or other controlling documents does not require or prohibit a bidder, offeror, contractor, or subcontractor from entering into agreements with one or more labor organizations; nor discriminate against or give preference to any one entity.

Numerous groups sent a Feb. 24 letter to both chambers of Congress in support of S. 403, including the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Independent Electrical Contractors, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among many others.

“Your opposition to any legislative language promoting controversial government-mandated PLAs on future infrastructure and spending bills, coupled with your support of the Fair and Open Competition Act, will create a level playing field in the procurement of government construction contracts, increase competition, help small businesses grow, curb construction costs and spread the job-creating benefits of federal and federally funded contracts throughout the construction industry,” the groups wrote.