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.