House Republicans continue labor reform efforts, address project labor agreements

The House Republican supermajority advanced another piece of its labor reform agenda, with the passage of HB 126 related to project labor agreements.

Representative Rob Vescovo (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Rob Vescovo (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The bill would bar required union agreements on public works projects.  Bill sponsor, Representative Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) said project labor agreements discriminate against non-union workers and called them, “indefensible.”

“Project labor agreements are designed to stifle competition and force non-union contractors to become signatory on certain projects,” said Vescovo.

Democrats like Bob Burns (St. Louis) said project labor agreements allow local governments to guarantee quality work will be done.

“This is only for one reason:  to lower wages.  That’s all it’s about.  We want to pay less wages,” said Burns.  “They’re not talking about quality.  They’re not talking about safety.”

The bill goes to the Senate, which has already passed similar legislation.

The House earlier this session joined the Senate in sending Governor Eric Greitens a right-to-work bill, which was signed into law earlier this month.  The House also passed a bill supporters call, “paycheck protection,” which requires annual permission from a public union employee before union dues or fees can be taken from his or her paychecks.

Legislation dealing with prevailing wage laws, which make contractors pay a state-set minimum wage for trade workers on public projects, is moving through House committees and could be the next labor reform the chamber will debate.