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Getting less bang for school-bond bucks

Pacts requiring unionized labor on school projects drives up costs, study shows.

Editorial: THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

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We've seen anecdotally the costs soar on projects covered by PLAs. A new study by the National University System for Policy Research confirms this point: "Our research shows that PLAs are associated with higher construction costs. We found that costs are 13 percent to 15 percent higher when school districts construct a school under a PLA. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we found that the presence of a PLA is associated with costs that are $28.90 to $32.49 per-square-foot higher.

Unions are attacking the study mainly because it is underwritten by a contractors' trade group. A union-backed think tank questioned the data by suggesting that it doesn't account for various differences in geography in California, although the study's authors say that they did, indeed, account for those differences. But it's clear that PLAs increase costs. How could they not, given that, by design, they impose costly union monopoly standards that reduce competition and promote higher benefit levels