The order is not flawless. It contains exceptions that would allow agencies to forgo a PLA if they determine it would not advance “economy and efficiency” and under several other circumstances. Hopefully, these loopholes will not be abused. It’s a good sign that the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors put out a statement blasting the order, claiming it will “needlessly increase construction costs.”
Encouraging the creation of high-quality union jobs by federal contractors is also part of a report just issued by the Administration’s Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. The document is an unabashed endorsement of unions as a force for raising living standards and workplace standards.
It argues for positioning the federal government as a model for cooperative labor-management relationships within its own workforce and for using the government’s spending power to promote stronger labor standards in private companies from which it purchases goods and services as well as in organizations receiving federal grants and loans.
The Task Force also makes the case for increasing union density in the private sector overall. Yet without legislation such as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which is stalled in the Senate, the Administration is limited to providing indirect support. The report includes a list of recommendations such as getting the National Labor Relations Board to use the web and social media to promote better understanding of worker organizing rights under existing federal law. It also suggests that high-level administration officials disseminate the same message through public service announcements.