Governor Chet Culver says he will not back down and intends to approve so-called “project labor agreements” for state-funded construction projects in Marshalltown and Mitchellville.
The bids from firms hoping to win the contracts for construction at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown and the state women’s prison in Mitchellville are to be opened in early January — while Culver is still governor. The Master Builders of Iowa asked Culver this week to delay the process and leave the decisions to Governor-elect Branstad, who does not intend to strike project labor agreements as Culver has done.
“The court has already ruled that the Master Builders do not have a legitimate argument,” Culver says. “The Supreme Court in Iowa has ruled that project labor agreements are allowed for certain state projects of a given size.”
Project labor agreements are designed to coordinate the activities of various trade unions and contractors that are part of a massive project. Critics say it means companies that do not have union labor are at a disadvantage in bidding on those state projects. Culver says 800 good-paying jobs are at stake if the projects are delayed.
“We’ve worked out the agreements. The Master Builders tried to stop these projects on several occasions. They lost at the administrative law judge level. They lost at the district court level, so they had their fair chance to make their arguments in the court of law,” Culver says. “And I’m doing what’s in the best interests of these hard-working Iowa families.”
Culver says project labor agreements help ensure publicly-funded projects are completed on time and within budget. The Master Builders of Iowa accuse Culver of “rushing” the two projects through before he leaves office, and counter that it will cost millions more to build the projects if the unions involved in the construction go on strike.
Culver made his comments this morning during taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program which airs tonight at 7:30.