Project labor agreement extended to cover ST2 light rail extensions

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PLA has helped avoid delays and cost overruns in delivering voter-approved projects

The Sound Transit Board unanimously voted to extend the agency's successful project labor agreement (PLA) for rail projects to cover the 36 miles of light rail extensions that regional voters approved as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure.

Numerous members of the regional labor community attended the Board meeting to encourage the Board's action. Board members recognized the agency's partnership with labor organizations as a core part of the agency's track record in successfully delivering billions of dollars in capital projects.

"Sound Transit projects have been a bright spot for thousands of local skilled tradespeople in a time when construction jobs have been scarce," said Seattle Building Trades Executive Secretary Lee Newgent. "The PLA has been pivotal in making these projects successful for workers, contractors and taxpayers alike."

The Sound Transit PLA, originally adopted in 1999, was negotiated between Sound Transit and the national and local building and construction stakeholders including various local and international unions as well as the Associated General Contractors and Associated Builders and Contractors. PLA provisions include the ability for light rail construction contractors to use both union and nonunion workers, as well as requirements that restrict unions from engaging strikes, picketing, work stoppages or other disruptions. The PLA also establishes processes for resolving issues that inevitably arise in building complex projects.

The Board's action extending the PLA followed a thorough review of the PLA's performance so far, including a comparison of its provisions with those of other project labor agreements around the region.

The study concluded the PLA has successfully met objectives identified by the Board, including:
• Reasonably achieving payment of prevailing wages and standard work rules;
• Preventing strikes, lockouts and cost overruns;
• Securing an adequate and reliable supply of skilled labor; and
• Providing employment opportunities for people of color, women, economically disadvantaged persons and locally owned small businesses.

Further Sound Transit priorities supported by the PLA include using pre-apprenticeship training programs to create opportunities for local workers, with particular focus on construction career opportunities for returning servicemen and women and under-represented members of our community.

Overall, Sound Transit 2 projects are projected to create more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.