Thumbs Up for SD Airport Expansion

A Project Labor Agreement, or PLA, will not be used in the $887 million project (scheduled to begin this summer) to expand San Diego’s International Airport at Lindbergh Field. This decision is giving rise to dispute. As the San Diego Business Journal reports: “Critics of such an agreement say PLAs limit bidding on projects to contractors with unionized work forces, and greatly reduces the number of bids, which in turn drives up the cost of projects.” Ironically, some claim the opposite. However there is evidence begging attention, as brought out by the San Diego Union Tribune: “The simplest possible way to test the bizarre claim that it is cost-effective [to use PLAs] to sharply limit bidders and require the use of more expensive workers in construction projects is to look at apples-and-apples comparisons.” Two reviews have been conducted, one in Boston (2003) and one in New York (2004), showing a 12% and 20% greater costs per-square-footage respectively using PLAs.