Modern Union FAQs

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What is a Project Labor Agreement?

05.18.18

What is a Project Labor Agreement?

By design, the new Brookview Golden Valley is not your run-of-the-mill parks and recreation center. It boasts unique amenities like lawn bowling, a full-service restaurant, comedy shows and an indoor playground, just to highlight a few.

But it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Specifically, how Brookview has been structured in a fiscally responsible manner – the golf course is established as a social enterprise and the restaurant generates additional revenue. Both strategic choices mean less cost to patrons and better use of tax dollars.

The facility, owned and operated by the City of Golden Valley, has come a long way since its run as a private golf club from 1919 through 1966. A city referendum converted Brookview into a public golf course in the late 1960’s, and a similarly-motivated public task force recently recommended to the Golden Valley City Council that the location be transformed into a place to gather. The Brookview of 2018 is twice the size of its predecessor, offering a modern, versatile indoor and outdoor space for all occasions.

But the $18.2 million project was an expensive investment for the city to make. It needed reassurances that budget would be met and that work would get done on time so that revenues could be realized and residents could begin enjoying the new community asset. That’s where the unions come in.

For the first time, the City of Golden Valley entered into a Project Labor Agreement with the regional Building Trades, the association of local building and construction trade unions.

What is a Project Labor Agreement?

Also known as a Community Workforce Agreement, a Project Labor Agreement is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project. In essence, it’s a commitment to what work will be done, to what timing, budget and accommodation, and how the workers will be compensated for their work.

What are the benefits of a Project Labor Agreement?

Rick Birno, Director of the Golden Valley Parks and Recreation Department, was eager to use a Project Labor Agreement for the Brookview upgrade. He saw a few critical benefits:

  • Unions agreed to no work slowdowns (even during the winter months!) or strikes, meaning the project would be completed on time
  • Even though some of the individual unions were negotiating other contracts at the time, the PLA superseded those negotiations
  • Workers would be paid a livable salary and provided fair labor standards
  • Timelines were agreed to, including work start and stop time each day, which was a big concern for local neighbors
  • Communications were outlined, so issues would be addressed clearly and quickly
  • Quality of workmanship was guaranteed

How did a Project Labor Agreement help execute this project?

According to Rick Birno, the winter season was particularly tough, with heavy rain in December which led to very soft soil and a far more complicated construction process. The PLA helped bring the right people to the table when issues were encountered, and the skilled union workers provided insights and recommendations. But not just the right fix, but one that was fiscally responsible, too, as taxpayers were funding this project.

Rick also appreciated how respectful the workers were of the neighbors living very nearby. Union workers kept the site safe and clean, and as quiet as possible. When work would impact the residents, workers would knock on doors and leave flyers. And at the end of the day, not only was top-notch work provided, but the project came in under budget and was completed on time. And that’s the union way.

More than that, the Golden Valley City Council wanted to ensure that workers building the new complex were paid fair wages. The wages, after all, go back into the local community in a number of ways. These guarantees between unions and the city made this project a win-win.

Learn more about the Brookview and Brookview Golf and Lawn Bowling.