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Labor agreement option

Published (2/22/2008)
By Thomas Hammell
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A bill that would once again allow state departments to enter into construction contracts containing labor agreements cleared its first House division.

Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) sponsors HF1596, which would overturn a 2005 executive order by Gov. Tim Pawlenty barring this practice. Nelson said the legislation would not mandate the agreements, but would give the option; adding that in these agreements, unions give up the right to strike before a project is completed.

Approved Feb. 15 by the House Labor and Consumer Protection Division, the bill was sent to the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

A companion bill (SF1252), sponsored by Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), awaits action by the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

Dick Anfang, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, said these types of agreements were allowed before the governor signed his executive order. These agreements provide uniformity between the groups working on the project, and are widely used in the private sector, he said.

Robert Heise, president of the Associated Building Contractors, Inc. Minnesota chapter, said this would essentially eliminate competition and would adversely affect non-union contractors. “The devil is in the details,” he said.

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