Sound Transit’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA) promotes: our commitment to labor stability and a local workforce; apprenticeship and employment goals for people of color and women; and non-discrimination and fairness in employment for both union and non-union contractors and craft workers.

What are PLAs?

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are collective bargaining agreements between building trade unions and contractors. They govern terms and conditions of employment for all craft workers - union and non-union - on a construction project. PLAs have been used successfully for generations on public and private construction projects.

PLA background

On May 31, 1996, the Sound Transit Board adopted Sound Move - a 10-year Regional Transit System Plan. Commuter rail and light rail were included in the plan, which also included requirements for timely completion of the work associated with these two components of the system. On July 8, 1999, the Board adopted Resolution No. R99-21, establishing Sound Transit's intent to use project labor agreements for a portion of construction contracts and authorized the Executive Director to negotiate one or more project labor agreements consistent with objectives, key provisions, implementation and oversight and monitoring outlined in the resolution. After the conclusion of negotiations, the Board passed Motion M99-80 on Nov. 18, 1999, authorizing the Executive Director to execute the project labor agreement.

The Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is a stand-alone collective bargaining agreement that applies to Link light rail construction contracts and Sounder commuter rail station contracts. It was negotiated between representatives appointed by the State of Washington Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO and its affiliate unions for labor, and Sound Transit for management. Organizations representing contractors and community also were included in negotiations.

The 2011 PLA study

The study, completed by Agreement Dynamics, Inc., examined PLA performance and provided suggestions for improvement. Agreement Dynamics received input from more than 141 individuals and groups. Based on stakeholder feedback, the consultant compared the provisions of this PLA with other PLA projects in the region: King County's Brightwater project, the Port of Seattle Airport PLA and WSDOT's 520 Pontoon contract (which is called a Community Workforce Agreement [CWA]).

Following the 2011 PLA Study the Sound Transit Board commissioned Agreement Dynamics to examine options for Sound Transit’s administration of the PLA. In response, sound Transit developed a work plan that identified key stakeholder concerns and developed strategies and potential actions that could improve administration of the PLA.

Apprenticeship goals

By setting the apprenticeship utilization goal at 20 percent of the total construction hours worked, Sound Transit has set a high standard for projects. And it is helping improve the region by ensuring that there are opportunities for workers who want to get into the construction trades and that there is a ready and able supply of trained candidates.

Preferred entry

This program has successfully helped underserved and disadvantaged populations gain access to apprenticeship opportunities in the construction industry. By partnering with programs such as Seattle Vocational Institute, Apprenticeship & Nontraditional Employment for Women (ANEW) and Helmets to Hardhats, Sound Transit helps place veterans, women and people from disadvantaged backgrounds into family wage-earning careers.

Regional Apprenticeship Preparation Integrated Delivery System (RAPID) Program

Also known as the "Nickel an Hour Fund", RAPID helps prepare unemployed and underemployed populations compete for entry-level positions as preferred entry apprentices in the building and construction trades. Unions and contractors actively recruit RAPID graduates for entrance to and successful completion of State Apprenticeship Council approved apprenticeship programs.