Legislation that prevents Project Labor Agreements from being required on public works projects is headed to the governor’s desk. The bill received final approval in the Assembly Thursday on a 64-35 vote.
State Representative Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) argued it reduces local control and could send money out of the state, while driving down wages for skilled labor. “We should be looking for ways to help Wisconsin workers, not passing a bill that will open the door for out-of-state contractors to work on vital projects with low-paid, untrained workers,” he said.
Rep. Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), whose journeyman husband works on projects that could fall under a PLA, challenged the bill’s supporters to consider the protections those agreements offer those who often work under dangerous conditions that are often off-set by higher pay. “Looking around this room at many of the people who will be voting for this bill, with all the soft hands and round bellies…I doubt many of you would be able to do the work my husband does,” she said.
Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), a sponsor of the bill, said it simply makes government neutral on the issue…leaving the decision up to each business. The Brookfield Republican said he fully expects businesses with union employees will still choose to operate with a PLA in place for their workers, while allowing non-union shops to compete for that work as well.
“This is pro-Wisconsin, this is pro-worker, this is pro-community,” Hutton said.