Bill would bar governments from mandating union labor

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State and local governmental entities would be unable to require or preclude the use of organized labor in public construction projects under legislation given preliminary approval Tuesday by the House of Representatives.

The bill sponsored by state Rep. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, seeks to limit the scope of project labor agreements, which set forth conditions that a contractor is required to meet in order to be awarded a construction contract. Such agreements currently can establish workplace rules, safety conditions and no-strike clauses, in addition to specifying the use of union labor.

The Republican-led House endorsed the bill on a 78-62 party-line vote. A second vote is needed to send the measure to the Senate.

Mayer said public bodies shouldn't use such agreements to bar non-union contractors from being awarded government work.

"I don't care if it's on the local level, state level or federal level, discrimination ought not be tolerated," Mayer said.

Democrats said the bill would limit local control and decision making concerning contract bids.

"It doesn't make sense for a the state to manage a city council's construction project," said state Rep. Clint Zweifel, D-Florissant.

Independent contractor groups and pro-business organizations support the bill, which is opposed by organized labor.

Only public entities would be subject to the bill's restriction on project labor agreements. Private companies would still be allowed to mandate that construction jobs for their projects go to union workers.

Lawmakers debated the measure for about 90 minutes until House Majority Floor Leader Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, used his power to halt discussion and force a vote.

The bill is HB 844.

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