Another Big Labor Union Payoff: Obama Adds $3.3 Million to Construction Project

-By Warner Todd Huston

The government is over spent. This single fact is beyond dispute. Even Democrats say so. We have but to recall that Democrat after Democrat attempted to run for office this last election by claiming fealty to small government, cost cutting, and lower spending. So with all this small government/low spending fever sweeping the political classes, what does Barack Obama do? He forces policies on federal building projects that inflates costs by the millions. And why would he do this? As a payoff to unions that gave him millions in campaign contributions, of course.

The latest bloated price tag for a federal project is that of the Lafayette Federal Building in Washington D.C., a project that has seen costs rise at least $3.3 million thanks to Obama’s payoffs to unions. That’s right in a day when we are drowning in government overspending, Obama is making sure costs rise, not insuring that they fall.

Barack Obama’s political tin ear is nowhere better revealed than in his constant payoffs to Big Labor. One of Obama’s very first actions, for instance, was to write an Executive Order that forced all government building projects to follow union marching orders in pay scale, work rules, and pension payouts by imposing Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on all of them.

In February of 2009 Obama issued EO 13502, headlined, “Use of project labor agreements for federal construction projects.” This order forced all construction projects to adhere to union rules even if the companies and workers involved were not members of unions.

Imagine being a non-union construction worker and being told that you are going to be forced to pay union dues even when you are not a member of the union. Imagine realizing as a worker that your hard earned wages are going to go to pay pensions for union members when you, yourself will never benefit from the very pensions you helped fund. Further imagine that the company you work for is going to take a cut in the profits it will make because of these same rules. Then you realize that your taxes are paying unions while you suffer as the costs for the projects you are working on are wildly inflated because of these PLA rules. And finally you come face-to-face with the singular fact that as a non-union worker, you are in the majority of all workers because union workers are less than 14 percent of your industry.

This is an example of the tyranny of the minority if there ever was one. As the Washington Examiner’s Mark Hemingway reports, only 14 percent of the construction labor force is forcing 86 percent to follow the rules of the minority. As in most of Obama’s policies, his PLA order helps out but a tiny minority and a minority that gave him millions in campaign donations to boot.

As Ben Brubeck of says of this outrage:

The costly and discriminatory terms and provisions in typical PLAs discourage competition from non-union contractors and increase the cost of construction. Numerous studies have found that government-mandated PLAs typically increase the cost of construction between 12 percent and 18 percent.

In the case of the Lafayette Building, the $3.3 million change order is the added cost the contractor charged the federal government for agreeing to the provisions in a PLA. (Remember that the general contractor for this project was awarded the contract for $52.3 million without a PLA). The added $3.3 million isn’t the result of increased material costs, revised blueprints or a more aggressive completion deadline. The contract was awarded to the same company with the same proposal, and the only variable is the PLA. There is no denying the PLA is the culprit of the increased costs on the Lafayette Building.

So, while every last American voter is painfully aware about how government is wildly overspending, Obama is making sure that costs rise. Barack Obama is consistently working against the good of the government and this is yet one more example.

See some of my other articles on Obama’s PLAs:

“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

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