MI Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council v. Snyder, No. 12-1246 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Project labor agreements (PLAs) are used in the construction industry to set common conditions of employment for large projects involving multiple subcontractors and unions. On a public construction project, a PLA can be entered into by the governmental unit paying for the project or by its general contractor; the other party is a labor organization. If the governmental unit enters into a PLA, all contractors bidding on the project must agree to abide by it. Opponents argue that PLAs discourage nonunion contractors from bidding on government contracts and increase construction costs. Proponents, such as the trades councils, claim that PLAs enhance job-site cooperation and reduce labor disputes. The federal government has gone back and forth on allowing PLAs. Michigan passed the first version of the Fair and Open Competition in Governmental Construction Act in 2011, restricting the use of PLAs on publicly funded projects. Following entry of an injunction, that version was superseded by an amended act, passed in 2012. The district court enjoined the current version as preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that the act furthers Michigan’s proprietary goal of improving efficiency in public construction projects, and is no broader than necessary to meet those goals.