Following Public Comment and Council Debate, CB-004-2023 is Enacted
The Prince George’s County Council, during session on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, voted 9-1 to support CB-4-2023, legislation establishing a Pilot Project Labor Agreement (PLA) targeting Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW&T) Curb and Road Rehabilitation 2 construction projects that create entry-level positions for residents that are both necessary and desirable.
District 8 Council Member Edward P. Burroughs III, proposer of the CB-4-2023, noted the critical need to hire and train local construction workers, providing opportunities for residents to acquire lifelong skills and earn family supporting wages.
“I am so honored to be a part of The People’s Council. One of our top pillars is supporting working families and this bill perfectly aligns with that purpose. The Council has a responsibility to use its legislative powers to guarantee that a significant share of taxpayer dollars spent on local construction projects are reinvested back into our communities to uplift County residents, and that’s what this pilot will do. Project Labor Agreements have a proven track record of fostering positive benefits, ensuring compliance with workplace safety and health standards and wage protections and equal opportunity. It is a common phenomenon in our County to pull up to construction projects and see license plates from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and otherwise. It is important that we shift that – that we invest in our own.”
The legislation, also supported by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, has a stated goal of advancing the County’s interest in producing labor-management stability; ensuring compliance with laws and regulations governing safety and health; furthering equal employment opportunities; and raising labor and employment standards. The Curb and Road Rehabilitation 2 construction project category provides the largest ongoing funded Capital Improvement Program (CIP) category for DPW&T.
Project Labor Agreements, also known as Community Workforce Agreements, are legal requirements that create the framework for unionization of government contracts. These contracts are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements with one or more labor organizations.
Sharing his thoughts during the public hearing, Raymin Diaz supported CB-4-2023, noting its potential for creating a career pathway to the middle class.
“This bill moving forward is a great moment for Prince George’s County and a clear signal that creating quality entry level job with benefits is an important policy goal. It is also a signal that elected officials in Prince George’s County recognize the need to prioritize the local workforce at the same time. I am an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who arrived in Prince George’s County when I was 8 years old. I am a graduate of High Point High School I started out in my construction career as a day laborer. I earned substandard pay and unscrupulous contractors stole my wages. My life changed when I joined Labors International Union. LiUNA opened doors and gave me a job with dignity and benefits. With the passage of CB-004-2023, the County can change lives, the same way it did with mine.”
District 7 Council Member Krystal Oriadha, co-sponsor of the legislation, said the measure creates opportunities for both small minority businesses and residents.
“One of the reasons I am a co-proposer of this bill is because it is important that we stand also with the community and residents. There is this idea, or this narrative, that you either have to stand with the business community or with the employees, and I just don’t believe that to be true. I think that as a Council we can strike a balance to be able to stand boldly, and loudly, and clearly represent and push the interests of our residents that do not have the opportunity to own a business but are just as valuable. We also want to have a clear message to elevate and center our small minority businesses. We need to let go of the notion that those two things cannot be done – that we cannot create space and opportunity for our residents that are workers, and for our small minority businesses. We can do that.”
The Council conducted a labor session during its Annual Retreat last January, that included presentations from union principals, and discussions surrounding Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) and Project Labor Agreements (PLA). Council Members discussed ways to leverage County contracts to benefit residents, focusing on increasing the number of contracts that go to County-Based MBEs while using PLAs to recruit, hire and train County residents, providing them with much needed benefits, including but not limited to, health care, retirement, sick leave, and family leave.
CB-004-2023 will take effect 45 calendar days after it becomes law.