What is a Project Labor Agreement?

In general, Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are contracts that are executed in connection with large, complex, public works construction projects whereby signatories to the agreement consent to forego strikes, work stoppages or job actions and provide a guaranteed flow of skilled labor. In exchange, a set schedule of wages, work hours and work rules are established for all non-union and union contractors.

These agreements are usually written in a manner to accommodate non-traditional union practices so as to welcome diversity to the work site and promote public policy.


On January 17, 2002 Executive Order 1 was signed, which provides that: On a project-by-project basis, a state department, authority, or instrumentality shall include a PLA in a public works project where it has been determined that the agreement advances the state's interests of cost efficiency, quality, safety, timeliness, skilled labor force, labor stability, and the state's policy to advance minority and women-owned businesses.

On July 30, 2002 legislation A1926 was signed authorizing the use of Project Labor Agreements on major public works projects.

Key Points of the SDA Project Labor Agreement (PLA)

  • The PLA is in effect on SDA-managed projects with a construction cost estimate of $5 million and above.
  • School facility projects managed by the Regular Operating Districts are not under the PLA unless determined by those districts.
  • Construction Managers (CM) serve as the on-site administrators of the PLA on behalf of the SDA.
  • All subcontractors, at every tier, on PLA-designated projects, performing PLA regulated work are contractually bound by the PLA.
  • These subcontractors must sign and submit the Letter of Assent to their General Contractor prior to the start of PLA-regulated work.
  • The PLA prohibits work stoppages or slowdowns of any kind, for any reason.
  • Contractors and subcontractors are not required to be signed with any trade union to have access to PLA work.
  • Non-union subcontractors are to recruit from the local union hiring halls for each trade as 88% of the workforce must be union labor.
  • Non-union contractors and subcontractors may retain 12% of their own staff.
  • Apprentices should be part of the workforce at the rate of 1 to 4 for each trade.

The Commissioner of Labor shall make an annual report on the overall effectiveness of PLAs in meeting the legislations' purposes, including information regarding minority and women employment on PLA projects.