Voters in two California cities, Chula Vista and Oceanside, recently passed ordinances that prohibit the use of government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on municipal projects. While the measures differ slightly from each other, in each case, the cities can not agree to sign PLAs with construction unions. Typically, a contractor enters into a PLA with a labor organization, which then determines the wages, benefits, other terms of employment on a project. The project itself could include union and non-union workers.
The election results appear to be one more sign of the dwindling influence of unions in America. In 2009, just 12.3 percent of American workers were union members, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. That’s about half the percentage from the early 1970s, according to this study out of Princeton.