The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council recently published a proposed ruled that, once implemented, will require the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects with a contract value of $35 million or greater. The proposed rule revokes President Obama’s Executive Order 13502 and implements an Executive Order 14063 (E.O. 14063) issued on February 9, 2022. E.O. 14063 addresses the use of PLAs in the government contracts. Under the current Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the use of PLAs on “large-scale construction projects” is discretionary. The new rule proposed by the Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revises the FAR contract clauses making the use of PLAs mandatory.
Under the proposed rule, contractors performing “large-scale construction projects” will be required to “negotiate or become a party to a [PLA] with one or more appropriate labor organizations.” FAR 52.222-33. A PLA is in essence a collective bargaining agreement between a local trade union and contractor that governs employment terms, including wages and benefits, for union and non-union workers. Although the PLA mandate only applies to large-scale construction projects with the contract value of $35 million and more, under the proposed rule, agencies have the option to include the PLA requirement for construction projects that are under the $35 million threshold. The proposed rule also sets out a flow-down requirement, which means that subcontractors working on a large-scale project must likewise be familiar with and comply with terms of the PLA negotiated by a prime contractor.