The Missouri Legislature Deals Another Blow to Unions by Limiting the Use of Project Labor Agreements

By Sara J. Robertson

The Missouri legislature recently sent a new bill designed to severely limit the use of project labor agreements to Governor Greitens’ desk. Known as Missouri Senate Bill 182 (“S.B. 182”), its stated purpose is to ensure a more competitive and fair bidding process for public works projects. 

A project labor agreement is a collective bargaining agreement that requires public construction projects (e.g., improving infrastructure, or building schools, libraries, or police stations) to be performed only by contractors that agree to sign a labor union agreement for that project. While Missouri’s current system allows both union and non-union contractors to bid on a project, in practice non-union contractors are effectively compelled to engage union labor and abide by terms of a collective bargaining agreement. 

S.B. 182 passed the House 104-52 on April 27, 2017, and would prohibit the use of project labor agreements on any project where the state of Missouri or its subdivisions is funding the majority of the project. However, projects that are funded by 50 percent or less of state funds may still be subject to project labor agreements on a project-by-project basis if a certain process is followed.

If signed into law by Governor Greitens, Missouri will join 23 other states that have already enacted laws to either limit or ban project labor agreements. We will keep you posted on the bill’s progress.