Friday, July 22, 2011

New Michigan Law Prohibits (Most) Project Labor Agreements

On July 19, 2011, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed SB 165 into law as the “Fair and Open Competition in Governmental Construction Act” (PA 98 of 2011).

The Act prohibits a city, village, township or other governmental unit from awarding a public construction project, grant, tax abatement or tax credit based on whether or not a bidder, contractor or developer employs union or non-union labor.

The Act generally prohibits a governmental unit from:
  • Entering into or spending funds under a construction contract if the contract terms: (1) require or prohibit a bidder or contractor from entering into an agreement with a collective bargaining organization relating to the underlying construction project or related projects; or (2) discriminate against a bidder or contractor based on their willingness or refusal to enter into an agreement with a collective bargaining organization relating to the construction project or a related project.
  • Conditioning a grant, tax abatement or tax credit on a requirement that the recipient include one of the terms listed above in a contract document.
  •  A governmental manager or construction manager from placing the above terms in bid specifications, project agreements, or other construction documents.
The statute has one significant exception: The Act does not prohibit employers or other parties from entering into agreements or engaging in any other activity protected by the federal National Labor Relations Act.   

The law is effective immediately.

Click here for additional analysis of this new law.

Update: Not unexpectedly, a federal lawsuit was filed on August 11, 2011 challenging the legality of PA 98. The Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO) and Genesee, Lapeer, Shiawassee Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO)filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking a declaratory judgment that PA 98 (a) is preempted under the Supremacy Clause; (b) violates the National Labor Relations Act; and (c) violates the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution. (Hat-tip: Courthouse News Service). 

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