Do you ever wonder what it takes to buy legislation? I would say at least $20,000. For that $20,000 you also get a nice trophy and are named ‘Legislator of the Year’. Lets take a little trip down memory lane.
Last February there were many discussions about government appropriations. Much of the discussion surrounded H.R. 1, the “Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011″. HR 1 was full of all sorts of amendments from both sides of the aisle. Actually there were 583 amendments offered on this bill. One of those amendments was offered by New Hampshire’s own, Congressman Frank Guinta.
“Amendment No. 166—Rep. Guinta (R-NH): The amendment would prohibit the use of funds made available by this Act to be used to enter into, after the date of enactment of this Act, a government contract that requires a project labor agreement.” from GOP.GOV
With this short amendment Congressman Guita to a huge swing at all of the building trade unions. In a letter to his colleagues Guinta said :
“In short, PLA mandates and PLA preferences are designed to discourage competition from qualified contractors.” (Letter)
This is simply not true. Project Labor Agreements do not disqualify non-union contractors. It mandates worker protections and fair wages. PLA’s also help the local economy by hiring local workers to perform jobs. Using local union halls to find skilled workers. PLAs are good for the taxpayers too. Francis Callahan President of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council told the Lowell Sun:
“Project-labor agreements do not raise costs. He cites the $80 million Taunton courthouse, which was built ahead of schedule and $6 million under budget, as an example.”
So why would our Congressman push to stop Project Labor Agreements when it will help the workers and the taxpayers? One reason could be campaign donations. According to OpenSecrets.Org, Congressman Guinta has received over $102,000 in donations from the construction industry. Guinta has also received $20,000 dollars from Associated Builders and Contractors.
Congressmen Guinta’s anti-union amendment and support on other PLA related bills has earned him Legislator of the Year by the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC).
“Congressman Guinta is a great friend of ABC, the merit shop construction industry and a strong ally in Congress,” said 2011 ABC National Chairman Michael J. Uremovich, president of Great Lakes Energy Consultants, LLC, Manhattan, Ill. “We appreciate all the work he has done to help advance the ideals of free enterprise and open competition.”
“Representing New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, Guinta is a member of the House Budget Committee, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, a panel that oversees matters important to ABC and its 23,000 members, including the elimination of government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) and the investigation of burdensome government regulations. In February, Guinta filed an amendment to the continuing resolution legislation that banned funding for federal government construction projects that included PLAs.” (ABC Statement)
We need the legislators we elect to fight for the middle class workers in New Hampshire. Not legislators who continue to attack our way of life. This was the case when Carol Shea-Porter was our elected Congressional Representative. She advocated along with Congressman Hodes and Senator Shaheen for a Project Labor Agreement on the Manchester Jobs Corp building. The Manchester Job Corps building would have been the first project in over a decade to have a mandated PLA from the US Government. This is the same Job Corps building that the ABC helped to delay to avoid using Project Labor Agreements. Now the Job Corps Center in NH is once again underway but this time Congressman Guinta got his way. The project moves forward without a PLA.
Guinta has once again began trumpeting the ABC’s anti-union, anti-PLA message by voicing his support for the “Bartlett Amendment” in the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4310). The Bartlett Amendment reads:
Amendment prevents federal agencies from requiring contractors to sign an anti-competitive and costly project labor agreement (PLA) as a condition of winning a federal construction contract.
This is almost identical to the Guinta Amendment in HR 1. The only difference is that the Guinta Amendment failed to pass, and the Bartlett Amendment passed and is now on its way to the Senate. Hopefully the Senate will not continue this race to the bottom by stripping the Bartlett Amendment from HR 4310.
These are important facts to consider when the time comes to vote for your Congressional Representative. Congressman Guinta has shown his true colors. He has spent his time fighting for anti-union lobbyist and pushing anti-worker legislation. However he did get a very nice trophy.