Project Labor Agreements

PLAs Are All About Harmony

They standardize the work rules across all the building trades on a job site.

They provide unions, including LIUNA, a chance to negotiate member wages and benefits—before the job starts—so there are no surprises.

They provide owners and contractors with a stable and highly skilled workforce, so they can focus on getting the job done on-time & on-budget.

They strengthen and stabilize the construction industry.

Think About It!

No two construction jobs are exactly alike, and no two building trades have exactly the same rules for their members. When it comes to planning a big, complex construction job, like a North Jersey or New York City high-rise, these small differences can lead to big headaches for owners, contractors and local unions. Enter the Project Labor Agreement (PLA): a negotiation tool that unions and management use to standardize all the rules of a specific job before work begins.

Why the need?

On a typical construction project, like a North Jersey/NYC high-rise, there can be 15 or more trades needed to perform work, with 15 different collective bargaining agreements all with different rules. The lack of coordination between management and the individual trades leadins to delays, inefficiencies and cost overruns. Project Labor Agreements reduce confusion, create efficincies, and make sure everyone follows one set of agreed upon rules on the job for the duration of the project—all before the project starts.

Don’t believe the lies!

Cut-rate corporations, anti-union legislators and non-union contractors oppose PLAs, claiming they increase construction costs and limit the pool of eligible workers and employers. BALONEY!

  • PLAs provide direct cost-savings by standardizing wages, benefits, overtime pay, hours, working conditions and work rules on major construction projects.
  • Opponents wrongly claim that PLAs are inherently unfair to non-union contractors and non-union employees. Consider this: if they bid for and won the work, these non-union contractors would have to operate under the terms of the PLA during the project, meaning their workers would directly benefit from the collectively bargained terms and conditions. So, they say it’s unfair because they don’t want their non-unionized workforce to see how bad they really have it!
  • Let’s face it: opponents of PLAs would prefer to make a quick buck by bussing in an unskilled, underpaid, non-union workforce from out-of-state, processing change and overrun orders and leaving us with a substandard finished product.


PLAs On Highway Projects

Here’s something you should know. While 95 percent of the time, PLAs are good for workers, there are certain situations where PLAs can actually harm LIUNA Eastern Region members. On highway, bridge, pumping station, and water and sewer treatment plant projects, only ourselves and a few other trades are involved; we’ve worked with the same contractors for years, most of whom are signatories; and the workforce is highly unionized. In these instances, the efficiencies a PLA would normally bring are already realized and requiring PLAs would only create unnecessary and disruptive jurisdictional disputes among the rest of the trades.



Did You Know?


According to the Cornell ILR School, one-in-four construction workers in our region are either misclassified or paid off the books. PLAs are one of the single best tools we have in the fight against worker misclassification, because when everyone is playing by one set of rules, it’s much harder for bad actors to deny workers benefits.


Workers On Jobs With Project Labor Agreements…


…help complex projects come in on time and on budget.


…benefit from a unified contract that governs the project.


…get a good wage for an honest day’s work.

One Agreement, Many Advantages

Project Labor Agreements provide advantages for local workforces.

Many project labor agreements include language that requires a project employ a minimum number of residents from the surrounding communities, benefitting women, minority and veteran workers.

Project Labor Agreements provide advantages for safety and training.

Most PLAs include language that require employers to participate in apprenticeship and training programs, providing workers with access to skills training and employers with a highly-trained, highly safe workforce.

Project Labor Agreements provide advantages for taxpayers.

Most project labor agreements include language that govern labor disputes on a project, allowing for quick, meaningful resolution of disputes without strikes and lockouts. This, coupled with access to a highly-skilled, highly-trained workforce, makes PLA projects more cost efficient, saving taxpayers money year-over-year.