Council considers labor resolution, recycling law
Superior's City Council considers a resolution that could give local labor a priority in public projects. Tuesday night, the council considers adopting a resolution that would encourage the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on qualified publ...
Superior's City Council considers a resolution that could give local labor a priority in public projects.
Tuesday night, the council considers adopting a resolution that would encourage the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on qualified public projects. PLAs are project-specific agreements that proponents say are even-handed attempts to adjudicate conflicts between contractors and union officials before they degenerate into a strike or a lockout, which can result in costly delays. Operating under project labor agreements, union workers would remain on the job irrespective of a strike.
However, critics of the agreements say they add to the cost of the project, and PLAs have been subject of debate and legal challenges.
Mayor Dave Ross said he's recommending the council consider an adopting a resolution rather than an ordinance requiring the project-specific agreements on every city project that reaches prescribed costs. An ordinance introduced to the council in June would have required the agreements on all city projects that exceeded $150,000 in estimated costs.
"If we adopt it as an ordinance, we would be ... at least from our understanding, the only city in Wisconsin that will adopt it as an ordinance, which leaves no flexibility whatsoever in the case-by-case situations that arise with city spending," Ross said. "It's our desire that they adopt it as a resolution."
Douglas County supervisors last year adopted a similar resolution to use project labor agreements on county projects that exceeded $150,000. The board later amended its resolution to match state minimums on such agreements, $221,000.
City Attorney Frog Prell, who was directed by the council to review the matter and bring back a proposal for the council to consider, said he's not making a recommendation to the council to adopt a resolution rather than an ordinance. However, he said as a member of the staff and the city's legal counsel, he doesn't believe the council should be in the business of restricting its broad discretion. He said a resolution recognizes the merits of project labor agreements without taking that discretion away, where an ordinance would be an "all-capturing mandate."
While the council has heard testimony from proponents of the agreements who say the agreements can hold down costs, some national studies have shown project labor agreements can add to the cost of construction.
After four months of discussion, the city's finance committee was unable to reach a conclusion about whether the project labor agreement benefits outweighed the cost.
The council considers the resolution at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Board Room of the Government Center.
In other business, the council also considers increasing the penalty for people who don't recycle. Two weeks ago, the council split 4-4 to defeat the measure that would have increased first-offense fines to $100. The council again considers the $100 penalty; however, this time, enforcement with the new penalty wouldn't begin until Jan. 1, 2010.