Research released July 21 by the National University System Institute for Policy Research says that school construction in California costs 13 percent to 15 percent more when union hiring mandates called "project labor agreements" are implemented.
The study examined 551 construction projects in 180 California school districts between 1996 and 2008. Researchers compared 65 projects operating under project labor agreements with 65 similar projects that were not operating under such agreements. The projects operating under the union hiring mandates cost $28.90 to $32.49 more per square foot.
In San Diego Unified School District, a project labor agreement enacted two years ago requires firms bidding on construction projects in excess of $1 million to hire local workers from union halls, and to pay union benefits. At least 23 other school districts in California have similar agreements.
"Most contractors working on San Diego Unified agree that the reduced competition on these types of projects pushes the price up," said Jim Ryan, executive vice president of the San Diego chapter of the Associated General Contractors Association. (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, July 21.)