This special edition of the Fastest 5 Minutes podcast covers recent developments related to the Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act, and key areas to watch in 2023. The podcast features a cross practice team of Crowell partners, so we offer perspectives from tax, energy, labor and employment, government contracts, ESG, environmental, and government affairs.
Eric Su is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Labor & Employment Group in the firm’s New York office. His practice mainly involves representing management in all aspects of labor and employment law, including government investigations and class and collective action litigation defense involving alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and parallel state wage and hour laws. Eric has routinely handled investigations by federal and state labor departments, law enforcement, and municipal agencies concerning wage and hour issues including, but not limited to, compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act (and Related Acts), Service Contract Act, and state “little Davis Bacon” and other prevailing wage or similar laws (e.g. New York Real Property Tax Law 421-a and New York Wage Parity Act).
On February 4, 2022, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects (the “Order”) for federal construction projects valued at $35 million or more. The Order instructs federal agencies to require “every contractor or subcontractor engaged in construction” on projects valued at $35 million or more to “agree, for that project, to negotiate or become a party to” a Project Labor Agreement (“PLA”) with “one or more appropriate labor organizations.”
Federal agencies are authorized to grant exceptions to this PLA requirement under certain defined circumstances. The Order supersedes an executive order issued by then-President Obama in 2009, which had encouraged, but not mandated, the use of PLAs on construction projects valued at more than $25 million. The Order is characterized as a measure that will “promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement” and advance “small business interests” and represents a noteworthy shift in United States federal labor policy, underscoring President Biden’s commitment to fulfilling his campaign promise to be the most labor-friendly President in history.
The Order applies to all “large-scale construction projects,” defined as a “Federal construction project within the United States for which the total estimated cost of the construction contract to the federal government is $35 million or more.” The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (“FAR Council”), in consultation with the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, may adjust this threshold based on inflation. “Construction” is defined to mean “construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, modernization, alteration, conversion, extension, repair, or improvement of buildings, structures, highways, or other real property.” It appears that the Order does not apply to federally funded projects under the control of state and/or local governments.…