No, I can’t lay this all the feet of the governor, but he certainly was the instrumental leader of removing local control on contracts for publically funded construction projects. Local laws often prescribe rules on who contractors can use in building projects and often require union labor and fair wages. But as part of the GOP attack on both labor unions and local control…they have now passed a law forbidding these locally prescribed labor laws and Governor Walker has signed it.

The measure on labor agreements, which passed the Legislature on party-line votes, is the latest in a series of moves to roll back union power by Republican lawmakers in recent years. Walker signed the law at Amerilux International, a De Pere distributor of construction materials.

Project labor agreements establish wages and other conditions for certain projects. Walker said the legislation will protect taxpayers by ensuring local government “neutrality” when it comes to those agreements.

“By forbidding state and local governments from requiring contractors to enter into agreements with labor organizations, we’re promoting healthy competition between contractors,” Walker said in a statement. “This means the contractor ultimately chosen for the project is the one that has demonstrated excellent service and will work at good value for Wisconsin taxpayers.”

But why should local government not be able to select the workforce they want and set the building rules they think they need…after all it’s their project…their tax dollars…and as even the governor is want to say…who knows better what the local area needs than the local officials…and that is certainly true except when it goes against the wishes of the governor and his Capital cabal.

But Democrats say Senate Bill 3 will interfere with the ability of local governments to get the best value for projects in their area. Unions say such agreements provide skilled workers who do quality work and make living wages.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement that the agreements are sometimes needed to ensure big projects are completed on time and to deal with “quality control, health and safety, and productivity problems.”

“These types of agreements can enable costs to be more tightly controlled and ensure that there are no disruptions to the construction schedule, for example from strikes. These factors far outweigh the unproven assertion that PLAs drive up project costs,” Barrett said.

So expect shoddier work…more out of town contractors and employees…and less ability by local government to control our own destiny.

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