The Real GSA Scandal: Job-Killing Big Labor Payoffs

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These anti-competitive agreements undermine a fair bidding process on projects that locked-out, nonunion laborers are funding with their own tax dollars.

And these PLAs benefit the privileged few at the expense of the vast majority: In the construction industry, 85 percent of the workforce is nonunion by choice.

David G. Tuerck of the Department of Economics and Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University testified on Capitol Hill last year: “The adoption of a PLA amounts, in effect, to the conferral of monopoly power on a select group of construction unions over the supply of construction labor.” The mandate serves “one purpose: to discourage competition from nonunion contractors (and, in some instances, union contractors) to the end of shoring up declining union power, along with union-mandated wages and benefits, against competitive pressures.” The institute’s studies show that PLAs have added between 12 and 18 percent to school construction costs in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The total price tag for GSA projects built with PLAs remains unknown. But here’s just one example: The Washington Examiner reported in 2010 that the GSA paid the federal Lafayette Building’s general contractor an additional $3.3 million above the initial $52 million contract to ensure that the project was built with a union payback PLA. The Obama administration had previously tried to slip a PLA mandate into a $35 million jobs center construction project in New Hampshire, but retreated when state contractors challenged the provision as an unfair restriction on competition. According to The Washington Times, just 8.7 percent of construction workers are unionized in New Hampshire.

Among the GSA administrators fired over Vegas-palooza was Robert A. Peck, chief of the agency’s Public Buildings Service. That’s the same office overseeing the $5.5 billion in stimulus contracts for capital projects like the Lafayette Building. But neither Peck nor any other GSA official nor the White House has been held accountable for job-killing union favoritism in its everyday contracting practices.

And as the pro-competition watchdog website The Truth About Project Labor Agreements points out: “Numerous (GSA) projects have been awarded to contractors submitting PLA bids at the expense of qualified firms opposed to PLA mandates. Full and open competition has been curtailed in violation of the federal Competition in Contracting Act. Taxpayer dollars have been wasted. Skilled nonunion craftspeople and their qualified employers have been denied jobs and opportunity as a result of this needless policy.”

For Obama’s union donors and their GSA fixers, the party’s still on.

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  • mlcblog

    Michelle is such a sterling reporter. A view that few have seen, plus well researched and containing pertinent examples. We are fortunate to have her.

  • davarino

    This current bunch in the white house are a joke that cannot even be comparable to the Bush admin. You lefties ought to be coming apart at the seams, but nothing. Your hypocrisy is blatant. All the repubs have to do is start ticking off all the transgressions over and over again and win in November.

    • Asher

      The tax payers are mad as hell about where there money is going, and we aren't going to take it any more! Solyndra, MF Global, GSA scandal, along with Quid Pro Quos to pay for votes that line up with the regimes Policies.

  • Ronald Johnston

    The evil terrorist, illegal alien and homosexual, osama obama, could not win election for dog catcher without buying the election!!!!!

  • jacob

    And in the meantime, what are the parasites we sent to CONGRESS dping about all this ???

    I watched a Congressman stating yesterday he asked GSA questions and they just stonewalled….
    HOLDER was subpoenad and also stonewalled and thumbed his nose to Congress and nothing
    has been done about….
    But if I would stand outside the WHTE HOUSE and curse OBAMA i would be shot on the spot, right ??

    And to think that, according to polls, this "President" has a damned good chance of reelection, confirms
    what EINSTEIN once said that there are two infinite things in life :



    • Asher

      Ted Nugent said it best today, enough to get a visit from the Secret Service…Its time to Roll!

  • Merit Man

    The use of Project Labor Agreements on public works projects has proven to raise costs. Ms. Malkin mentions one great resource for learning about PLAs ( but should also be aware that the latest peer-reviewed study on the matter offers an even more compelling reason to reject union-only, Government Mandated Project Labor Agreements. The National University Institute for Policy Research and The USC Keston Institute found in their 2010 study of over 500 California school construction projects that the cost of using a PLA is between 15% and 18% higher than when the projects are built according to standard Prevailing Wage policies which already demand high wages and full benefits for workers. You can learn all about that study at

  • DrBukk

    My stepson worked at the GSA during GWB. He says there were rows and rows of workers sleeping at their desks and watching their desktop TV's. They can't be fired. On one occasion a woman was sleeping past quitting time and a few people gathered to laugh at her. Turned out she was dead.

  • DrBukk

    And I mean stone cold dead. Nothing unusual about sleeping on desks.

  • reality

    Without Obama and Democrates support, GSA officials definitely will not be able to do things like those. It's corruption from top to bottom under Obama.