- The Associated Builders and Contractors released an update Monday to its "Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard," which reviews and ranks each state on how its "free enterprise" regulations and other construction business-friendly conditions promote a merit-shop environment.
- Louisiana (first), Virginia (second) and North Carolina (third) were ranked at the top of the ABC's list for their use of public-private partnerships, success with career and technical education programs and passing project labor agreement, prevailing wage and right-to-work legislation. The ABC scored Illinois, New Mexico and Alaska in the last three spots.
- The ABC said its merit shop standard is based on the principles of open and fair competition in the free market, the right for employees and employers to determine wages and the nature of their working relationship with or without collective bargaining, and the "stewardship" of taxpayer dollars by awarding public projects to the lowest bidder no matter if it's associated with organized labor or not.
The ABC also ranks states on job growth and their workforce development initiatives. There is little difference between this year's state rankings and last, indicating that the business of overturning or enacting business legislation can be a lengthy process.
ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck said the scorecard results can help highlight the regulations that lure construction industry players to a certain state.
Project labor agreements have been a divisive issue in the construction industry, as opponents, such as the ABC, claim that PLAs restrict competition and raise costs, particularly because a common requirement of PLAs mandates that contractors and employees must pay into union benefit plans and abide by union work rules.
However, proponents of PLAs claim they are a way of controlling costs and quality on the job, and they reject the idea that they place an undue burden on non-union contractors and employees.
In addition to promoting regulations it believes will spur economic activity, the ABC also aims to defend its members when it believes the government has gone overboard with burdensome regulations. The organization was part of a lawsuit that recently resulted in a federal judge in Texas permanently blocking the Department of Labor's "persuader" rule, which would have required confidential attorney-employer discussions be disclosed if they touched on any union organizing matters.