New Anti-PLA Study De-Bunked Upon Arrival

ABC releases study which purports to show project labor agreements increase the cost of school construction projects in California.

Cited Researcher Refutes Conclusions; Points Out "Errors of Bias"

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today released a new study which purports to show that Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) dramatically increase the cost of school construction projects in the state of California. The study, Measuring the Cost of Project Labor Agreements on School Construction in California (Vince Vasquez, Dr. Dale Glaser, and W. Erik Bruvold; 2011), was immediately called into question because the study's authors misrepresented the findings of another researcher they had cited.

At its core, this report falls short of credibility because it surprisingly fails to include discussion about various important issues that relate to school construction costs- most notably, change orders. In fact, previous studies relating to PLAs and school construction costs (see: Project Labor Agreements' Effect on School Construction Costs in Massachusetts; Belman, Ormiston, Kelso, Schriver, and Frank; 2009) conclude that when models better control for differences in characteristics between PLA and non-PLA schools, then PLAs are shown to NOT affect school construction costs; and in other industries PLAs have proven to actually reduce costs.

Adding further discredit to this new study is the fact that a well-known expert in the field of the economics behind Project Labor Agreements (and one of the authors of the above-reference study), Dr. Dale Belman of Michigan State University's School of Labor & Industrial Relations was referenced many times. Unfortunately, the authors misrepresented Dr. Belman's previous research in order to formulate their assumptions and conclusions.

After reviewing the study, Dr. Belman sent a letter to the study's authors, where he said the following:

"I have read your study carefully to better understand your data, model and methods. I find that your study's conclusion is not supported by your research; that you have overlooked important factors that affect costs, and that you have misinterpreted and drawn erroneous conclusions from my work; mistakes that I hope you will want to correct."

Dr. Belman's letter went on to state:

"Although your study has several serious statistical issues, at the end of the day, your results are basically consistent with those presented in my article on PLAs and Massachusetts school construction costs. The take-away from your results can be summarized as follows: When appropriate controls are included for differences in the characteristics of schools built including school type and location, building specifications, materials used etc., there is no statistical evidence that PLA schools are more costly compared to non PLA schools."

America's Building Trades Unions remain hopeful that policymakers, the media, and the general public will base their conclusions about PLAs upon the proven track record of such agreements in the marketplace; and the fact that more and more profit-oriented private sector entities like WalMart and Toyota are turning to PLAs for "on time, on budget" results. The conclusion that these companies have reached is unmistakable: PLAs work!

The Building and Construction Trades Department is an alliance of 13 national and international unions that collectively represent over 2 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada.

SOURCE Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO

CONTACT:Tom Owens, +1-202-756-4623,