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Biden to sign executive order boosting rights of 200,000 construction workers

Economy Feb 03, 2022 10:20PM ET
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© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about a U.S. Special Forces operation in Northern Syria against ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 3, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Friday requiring "project labor agreements" in federal construction projects over $35 million, a potential boost to workers and unions that negotiate these deals, and a shift the administration says will speed up building times.

The order will apply to $262 billion in federal construction contracting and impact nearly 200,000 workers, the White House said late on Thursday, confirming news first reported by Reuters.

Project labor agreements are collective bargaining agreements between building trade unions and contractors, which set wages, employment conditions, and dispute resolution on specific projects. Democratic presidents in the past have typically supported applying such agreements to the massive U.S. federal contracting budget, while Republican presidents have rescinded them.

The order, which will go into effect immediately, comes on the heels of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by Biden that invests in the country's roads, ports and bridges.

Much of that money will flow through federal agencies to states and local governments. The new executive order excludes projects funded by grants to non-federal agencies, a senior administration official said, adding that will make up for a bulk of the projects under the bill. But it will apply to billions of other federal spending on waterways, military bases and other areas.

The White House said Biden would visit Ironworkers Local 5 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Friday to sign the new executive order, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

The U.S. construction industry - including workers, owners, developers, contractors - has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to a slowdown of available goods and labor and the termination of entire projects.

Biden has vowed to strengthen unions and increase membership in the United States after years of steady decline, and to increase salaries for hourly workers in construction, health care and other jobs.

"Contractors who offer lower wages or hire less qualified workers will need to raise their standards to compete with other high-wage, high-quality companies," the order says, according to a draft viewed by Reuters. Earlier executive action by Biden requires federal contractors in new or extended contracts to pay a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Biden's move won praise from some contractors.

"This streamlines the negotiation process and gives employers access to a highly skilled pool of craftworkers," Daniel Hogan, chief executive of the Association of Union Constructors, that represents 1800 contractor companies, told Reuters.

Biden to sign executive order boosting rights of 200,000 construction workers
 

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Comments (8)
Raymond Pasillas
Raymond Pasillas Feb 04, 2022 11:10AM ET
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Big government control.
jerry gong
jerry gong Feb 04, 2022 9:58AM ET
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He thinks he is Roosevelt
jerry gong
jerry gong Feb 04, 2022 9:58AM ET
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He thinks he is Roosevelt
ruperto saco
ruperto saco Feb 04, 2022 5:32AM ET
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A new order for a road goes out to public tender. Tx&Co. offer 200K$ Mexicalli S.A Offer  100K$ In touch with local government Tx&Co declared: “Don’t get me wrong sir, Mexicalli will do the job under our supervision. 50$k will go to the local government and 50$K for Tx&Co”
Dominic Mazoch
Dominic Mazoch Feb 03, 2022 10:19PM ET
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Except for DoD issues as Commander and Chief, EO to me are unconstitutional.
pcg upstate
pcg upstate Feb 03, 2022 8:18PM ET
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Can't fire lazy union workers
George Jetson
George Jetson Feb 03, 2022 8:05PM ET
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200,000 illegal "construction" workers
Jeffrey Vose
Jeffrey Vose Feb 03, 2022 6:42PM ET
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Im a General Contractor down here in Florida and luckily we dont have too many unions down here but the construction workers in unions i have delt with down here are some of the laziest workers you can get. They do the bare minimum and get paid a premium and then ****about not getting paid enough.
Matt Brackley
Matt Brackley Feb 03, 2022 6:42PM ET
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Agreed unions are a huge problem. Don't worry though all their pensions are about to go belly up. Nobody will go near them. They will be the slave pens.
 
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