Benner Township- At a news conference today at the Benner Commerce Park, State Senator Jake Corman (R-34) took issue with a decision by the Department of General Service to enter into project labor agreements (PLAs) for the construction of the new 2,000-bed prison in Rockview.
Corman was joined in his opposition to the move by more than a hundred local construction workers and owners, builders, and Centre County Commissioner Steve Dershem.
Corman said that the use of PLAs on the construction job discriminates against non-union workers and companies and does not give many local companies an opportunity to bid on the project. He said that local contractors are simply asking the Department of General Services for a level playing field so that they can compete.
“The use of PLAs will discriminate on non-union companies who simply want an opportunity to bid on a project – and to provide the most competitive bid. And this is at a time when local businesses are sorely in need of new work to stimulate our local economy,” Corman said. “Most of the commercial construction companies in this area are non-union, meaning they will never even have a chance to take part in the bidding process.”
“This decision defies common sense,” said Dave Remick, President, ABC Central Pa Chapter. “While local contractors struggle to keep people employed, the Rendell administration is maintaining a program that will truck people in from other areas of the state or from out-of-state to fill local construction jobs. This will put hard-working Pennsylvanians in Centre County out of work, and will limit competition, which will increase construction costs for state taxpayers. Pennsylvania taxpayers should be outraged.”
Corman added that because PLAs do not provide for an open and competitive bidding process, they are not taxpayer-friendly and could drive up costs. He noted that local contractors may be able to offer lower prices, which means that taxpayers would save money.
“My view is that we should let local contractors bid on this and other construction projects so that we keep the jobs and the money here in Centre County,” Corman said. “At a time when we are trying hard to stimulate the economy and create job growth it seems a shame to take paychecks out of this county and region.”
Corman said the use of PLAs is not just an issue in his district, but statewide as well and he urged changes in the way the Department of General Services determines when and if they should be used.
“When you give more people the opportunity to bid for work, you improve competition and that lowers costs and ensures that you have a more qualified workforce bidding on the process,” Corman said. “All we are asking is that qualified builders and contractors be given a chance to take part in the bidding process and in showing that they are the best choice for the job.”
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