For such a blue state, Illinois has some rather good Republicans in Congress, but on one issue many of them consistently fail. That is their unfortunate support for Big Labor. The issue of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) is a perfect example of this penchant to support issues dear to the hearts of Big Labor.
Unions love PLAs because the rule forces government construction projects to be conducted under union rules, to pay union pay scales to workers as well as pension payments to the union plans, and requires all work to be controlled by union bosses even if the companies hired to do the work are non-union. With PLAs, unions feel they have the best of both worlds because they can still benefit from free government money even when they aren't hired to do the work. In short, PLAs are a sop to unions.
The main problem with PLAs is that they drive up the costs of government building contracts from the word go. This costs us all money and in this era when we need to be cutting back the skyrocketing costs of government. Adding rules that drive up costs before the first foundation is dug is madness. Worse, it is unfair to the largest number of construction companies that aren't union members, as they are forced as a condition of getting the work to pay unions thousands out of their pockets, even though they'll never benefit from union pensions or other programs.
Sadly, too many Illinois Republican Congressmen have been consistently in favor of allowing unions this free government handout. It is probably not a huge surprise that even Republicans in deep blue Illinois might end up bowing to the needs of greedy Big Labor initiatives. But it is not healthy.
Not all Illinois Republicans have been swayed by Big Labor, mind you, but most of them have repeatedly voted in favor of PLAs. Only three of the Illinois GOP delegation, for instance, voted PLAs down in the last round of votes for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) held on May 17.
During that last vote, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R, Md.) passed by a slim 211 to 209 margin. This amendment would torpedo any requirements that PLAs be forced on qualified contractors by federal agencies. (Roll call vote results).