Streams

Pressure Grows To Drop Union Pay Premium for Dulles Metro

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - 11:46 AM

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is convening a meeting of the stakeholders in the Dulles Silver Line project as a dispute among the parties threatens to derail the project.

As we've been reporting, Virginia is balking at a premium for union contracts on the project, and is threatening to pull funding.

Officials say Lahood, concerned that a crucial economic development project may be thwarted, has invited representatives from the Governor's office, MWAA, WMATA and Loudon and Fairfax counties to participate in the meeting.

Meantime, the Washington Airports Task Force issued the following statement today:

"We call upon all Dulles Rail funding stakeholders—MWAA leaders, federal, state and local government leaders, and WMATA’s management—to focus on resolving the issues concerning the second phase, in order to find the common ground that will enable Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail Project to move smartly forward to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County.  In so calling, we applaud the further effort of U.S. Secretary Ray LaHood to save this project.

"The MWAA has managed Phase 1 essentially on cost and on time.  It is now time to focus on the real issues, which are:
1)     Funding Phase 2 without placing an unreasonable burden on Toll Road users.
2)     Dropping the PLA preference, and instead requiring the contractor to provide a well-qualified and reliable workforce to build Phase 2 in a similar manner to Phase 1.  The successful contractor should be left with the ability to use every tool in their toolbox to complete Phase 2 safely, within budget, on time and in conformance with Virginia’s right to work laws.

"America has built its greatness upon a pragmatic approach to business, science and politics.  Pragmatism means working together to achieve what is best for the common good, and surrendering extreme desires in the interest of that common good.

"Extension of rail to Dulles/Loudoun County is a “Game Changer” for the whole region.  The Dulles Metrorail Project will link the Dulles Corridor to the rest of the region.  This project will benefit:
Ø  Virginia, through increased revenue from the support of economic and employment growth in Northern Virginia.
Ø  The District of Columbia, through economic and employment growth, and improved access to its international gateway for tourism.
Ø  Maryland, by linking the entire Metrorail system to a corridor that now constitutes 25% of the entire Metro Region’s economy, bringing Maryland employers closer to Virginia residents and vice versa.

"It is unconscionable to think that, as a region, we would not move swiftly forward with the second phase of the Dulles Metrorail Project.  If we did allow the project to fail, how could we, as one of the nation’s wealthiest areas, expect to solve the bigger transportation issues challenging our region, including swift multi-modal access between activity centers, relief for our congested highways, and creation of an effective, fair, sustainable source of regional infrastructure funding? "

More later.

 

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Comments [1]

HardHatMommy

The statement "Virginia is balking at a premium for union contracts on the project, and is threatening to pull funding," might mislead people to think this issue is about paying one group more than another for the same work. The workers don't get any more money with or without the PLA. The project will use prevailing wage scale.

The PLA preference gives an advantage to those who commit to using a PLA on the job. There is no way to overcome a 10% preference on a job like this and that means in order to win the job you better be willing to figure out a way to have a PLA on the job.

The issue that has Virginia and the counties upset is that the PLA discriminates against who ultimately builds the project - majority union or a mix of union and non-union (as was the case on Phase 1). This isn't about worker pay - something that people assume sometimes. This is about constricting competition and causing the cost to rise while at the same time discriminating against one state's workforce. Really it is about real people who build amazing projects in Virginia, who pay tolls and pay taxes, but may be shut out from having a chance to work on this project.

May. 02 2012 02:43 PM

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