Monday, January 23, 2017


The first fast-tracked measure in the 2017-19 Wisconsin Legislature heats up tomorrow. No, it doesn’t deal with the special session Governor Walker has called on dealing opiod addiction- there are no days scheduled on the Assembly or Senate floor for that yet.

Something else has higher priority, which means we will have hearings in the Assembly Labor Committee on Tuesday and Senate Labor and “Regulatory Reform” Committee on Wednesday on a bill that would prevent local and state government from certain pro-union requirements on construction projects, commonly known as Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).
Under this bill, the state and local units of government are prohibited from engaging in certain practices in letting bids for state procurement or public works contracts. Under the bill, the state and local governments may not do any of the following in specifications for bids for the contracts: 1) require that a bidder enter into an agreement with a labor organization; 2) consider, when awarding a contract, whether a bidder has or has not entered into an agreement with a labor organization; or 3) require that a bidder enter into an agreement that requires that the bidder or bidder's employees become or remain members of a labor organization or pay any dues or fees to a labor organization.
GOPs and other (cheap) labor businesses are claiming that such a bill would open up competition for projects and result in both cheaper costs and more employment (raise your hand if you’ve heard that line before).

Dave Branson, the executive director of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, disagreed with that mentality, and explained earlier this month in the Daily Reporter how Project Labor Agreements work. Branson notes that these PLAs often end up being a win-win for government as well as workers.
When Wisconsin public agencies look to invest taxpayer dollars in construction projects, they — just like corporations in the private sector — essentially have two distinct business models from which to choose.

The first relies on project-labor agreements, commonly called PLAs. It’s a business model that offers increase jobsite efficiencies through the use of a 21st century labor-management approach that fosters cooperation, harmony and partnership. It ensures that construction owners will have a steady, local supply of the world’s safest, most highly skilled and productive craft workers. And it ensures these workers will receive a pay and benefits package that is reflective of their skill and productivity.

PLAs further promote employment opportunities for local residents — particularly military veterans, women and minorities. PLAs can help people in these groups gain access to career training in the skilled trades through the use of apprenticeship-readiness programs and formal apprenticeship education and training.

PLA arrangements present a stark contrast to the “race to the bottom” business model that permeates the U.S. construction industry today. Advocates of this system appear to staunchly believe that contracts in the construction industry should be awarded primarily to contractors who are able to assemble the lowest-cost workforce possible. Workers in this group tend to be among the most vulnerable and exploitable.

In the public realm, where there is oftentimes an ironclad “low bid wins” requirement, disreputable employers are increasingly misclassifying employees as “independent contractors” or using undocumented workers, in order to reduce their labor costs and win contracts.
Call me crazy, but maybe quality should play a factor in a construction project, given that cutting corners and performing shoddy work often result in the need to spend more in further repairs and improvements in later years.

But of course, there’s a bigger ethos at work with Hutton and the rest of the ALEC/GOPs that are supporting this, and it involves trying to reduce the power of Wisconsin workers to obtain and maintain decent wages, and keep them more "in line" with politicians and bosses. This has been the theme of most WisGOP labor “reforms” over this 6 year Reign of Error, starting with Act 10 on public employees, then moving onto right-to-work (for less) for private workers. It also includes a number of behind-the-scenes moves, such as erecting barriers to receiving unemployment and welfare benefits (and making people more desperate, causing them to accept lousy jobs and wages), changing who is on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Council (WERC), and eradicating professor tenure at the UW System.

All of these moves are designed to make the average Wisconsin worker to be more at the mercy of their current and future employers, and have to settle for smaller wages and benefits as a result. It’s a straight-up transfer of money from the working classes to the owning ones (or worse, the owning classes put those extra profits into their pockets or use the extra money for less productive measures like kickbacks to politicians and asset gambling).

So are all of you blue-collar Trump voters who were looking for better jobs and wages, and the ones cheering now-President Trump for signing an order today removing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are you cool with this Wisconsin GOP plan to limit your wages even more? If you want real change that might improve your life, and more freedom to earn a decent living (goals that I completely agree with and think you deserve), how about rising up against this anti-PLA bill, and recognize that guys like me who work with our heads in big cities aren’t the ones keeping you down?

Now do you see which people are really screwing you over? It’s the anti-worker WisGOP legislators and the anti-worker Governor that are the real villains in stagnating your life. So are you going to speak up and boot them out, or continue to blame "those “elitists and takers" in big cities, and continue to lose? Your call, blue-collars.


  1. On a national level - shaking my head at a nation where people think they're striking a blow against the elite (made up of teachers, cops, firefighters, journalists, plumbers, electricians and such) by electing a real estate developer who brings on people like Rex Tillerson, Betsy DeVos and a host of Goldman Sachs execs.

    I don't even know where to begin a conversation with the people who are convinced that the real problem in this country is we're not competitive enough and poor people have it too good.

    1. They need to have it happen to them. That's the sad conclusion I've drawn, and maybe bills like this, which will drop the wages of a lot of blue-collar white guys who voted Trump/Walker, will make these dopes realize we ALL are being screwed by these thugs