By Cara Lombardo
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers are proposing that Wisconsin limit union influence on bids for public projects.
The proposal from Sen. Leah Vukmir and Rep. Rob Hutton would prohibit state and local governments from requiring contractors bidding on their projects to use unionized workers or enter into project labor agreements — collective bargaining agreements that establish rules controlling work on a project upfront, such as setting work hours or requiring workers to join a union. Few places in Wisconsin require them.
Public hearings on the measure were set for Jan. 24-25. Hutton said the legislation would yield more competitive bids and allow a wider range of companies to bid for public projects.
“There are terrific firms out there that are both union and anti-union,” Hutton said. “We don’t want to be in the business of government determining which firm receives projects.”
Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt said the proposal would put lawmakers in exactly that position.
“Local governments should have the right to decide how they want to do business,” Neuenfeldt said. Labor unions such as the AFL-CIO have argued that projects with project labor agreements, or PLAs, are more likely to be completed on time, within budget and under better working conditions.
Hutton cited Superior, Pittsville and Barron as cities that have used PLAs. Dane County occasionally does as well, he said.
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