Senators Gleason and Gregory, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the
passage of Senate Bill No. 165 and moved that the statements they made during the discussion of the bill be printed
as their reasons for voting "no."
The motion prevailed.
Senator Gleason's statement is as follows:
For over 20 years, project labor agreements have been utilized across the country as a tool to upgrade the skill
requirements of the workers on these projects. Many communities call this a labor harmonious act, not a project labor agreement, because it offers a sense of responsibility and a transparent form of communication between the
investors, the developers, and the workers.
In 1993, some would suggest at that time, certainly not a liberal Supreme Court of the United States, some would
suggest an obligation that should be extended to American workers. They were discussing at that time the cleanup of
the Boston Harbor, and the U.S. Supreme Court validated the use of project labor agreements across our country.
Project labor agreements are a course of action that is utilized to sit down with those who are investing in the
project, those who will be performing the work, and the individual workers as well.
Recently, a Supreme Court that had the wherewithal to interject itself in the U.S. presidential election and
overturned, many would say with the decision of the state of Florida in regard to the Gore and Bush election of
2000, they interjected themselves in that decision. The Supreme Court, who many would suggest has become even
more conservative in their tendencies, recently, once again, submitted their opinion in the Santiago Community
College project; that this was a fair and equitable way to negotiate agreements.
I am not only speaking on behalf of those who are under attack today, those who belong to collective bargaining
units--the carpenters union, electricians, teamsters--all of those who have typically implemented and utilized this
agreement in the past, but on behalf of all Michigan citizens and those who will be paying for these projects, not
only with their personal investment, but in many regards those who will be using the facilities themselves, will be
visiting the facilities, and those who will be in the immediate area of the buildings. This is serious business when
you are constructing multistory structures that need spans, and the public is going to be circulating in that area.
Of all the safety concerns of our citizens thought of during this process and of all the concerns about a fair and
legally-accepted fashion of negotiations when we sit down across the table from our contractors and workers
represented by the collective bargaining units, that is most definitely a concern of mine. My trouble is that we are
continuing a trend that we began in the new year. Once again, we are trying to really prostitute in a political fashion
the collective bargaining process itself.
Who are we carrying the water for in this continuing of the trend to interfere with those who belong to collective
bargaining units? I am troubled about this. I am one who believes fervently that government can be too big. I have
displayed it in my action, votes, and remarks over the past several years. Once again, it seems that in this chamber
there is the thought that government is not too big; that, once again, we can have an expanse of government; that we
can interject ourselves in this process. This is easily defined as an overreach by state government in the local
obligations and negotiations. There is not a single person in this chamber who can say that the state of Michigan,
through this action, is not interjecting itself. Big Brother in Lansing knows more than the local units and the local
investors, and we will tell them how to do their business. Project labor agreements have been around for decades.
Typically, and I can't site one example where there has been a cost overrun or a calendar that hasn't been met by
using a project labor agreement. They have been used in my county and others, probably yours as well. But, once
again, here is Lansing telling our communities that we know more than they do; that they don't have the wherewithal
to sit down and negotiate in a responsible fashion on behalf of their communities and investors. Our community
college, Mott Community College, universally implements a project labor agreement. Genysis Hospital, a local
medical facility, used a project labor agreement and came in way under cost and way ahead of schedule. So both of
the obligations that are typically agreed upon in a contract were met and indeed exceeded.
So the U.S. Supreme Court says we should be able to use these and local communities have. But, once again Big
Brother here in Lansing, as I mentioned before, says no, we know more than our local communities. I think this
trend is troubling because it seems like every few weeks, we are doing something that is not to the benefit of the
state, but is actually a full-force attack on those who belong to unions. If anyone can show me an example that
project labor agreements haven't been fruitful, I would like to see it. Project labor agreements guarantee--they flatout guarantee--that you will use the highest-skilled workers, and the safety records cannot be met with projects that
haven't used the labor agreements.
So with regard to the safety issue itself and the impediment to local decision-making, I think this is another stretch
to hurt our Michigan workers. I ask that we quit interfering with local decisions.