Association of Entrepreneurs Sue County ”Albuquerque Journal
Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
A local contractors association and several of its members are suing Bernalillo County over an ordinance that could force union work on some of the county’s biggest construction projects.
New Mexico builders and associated contractors and other plaintiffs allege in a lawsuit filed last month that the county ordinance violates workers’ rights under the U.S. Constitution and national labor relations law. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Mexico, also argues the order discriminates against non-union contractors and therefore violates state appeals laws. offers.
The plaintiffs, which include several contracting companies and some of their employees, are asking the court to prevent the county from enforcing the order.
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ABC and other players in the construction industry have been battling the Community Workforce Ordinance since the county commission began reviewing it last year.
The ordinance – which the commission finally passed by 4-1 last September – does not prevent non-union companies from winning jobs in the county, but requires contractors selected for major county public works projects to sign. a community workforce agreement, or project workforce, outlining a certain level of participation of unionized workers in the workplace.
It only applies to jobs totaling more than $ 7 million and employing workers in three or more trades.
The commission retains discretion as to when to demand agreements, even on projects that would meet standards. In November, for example, the commission decided not to demand a collective agreement for the $ 10.3 million Route 66 visitor center.
None have been appointed since the adoption of the ordinance.
The state already sets wage rates for workers on public construction projects, but supporters of the county ordinance say it would mean all workers would also receive benefits such as health care and retirement. . The ordinance requires almost all workers in an applicable county project to pay union dues while on the job; it also requires contractors to pay workers’ benefit contributions to the union, except in certain cases where they are already providing certain benefits.
But critics have argued that many non-union contractors already offer such benefits, and forced union participation would reduce competition. They also note that union members represent only a small portion of the state-building workforce.
“This program is a help for the organized labor imposed on our construction community and our workforce, more than 90% of which choose not to join a union,” said Carla Kugler, President and CEO ABC New Mexico, in a written statement. “Employees will never see the benefits of this ordinance if they don’t stay unionized. “
The county did not specifically respond to the claims of the lawsuit.
“It is not appropriate for the county to deal with this dispute, at this time,” spokesman Tom Thorpe said in a written statement. “The county strives to serve taxpayers and its citizens by creating job readiness training, maintaining good labor management relationships in the community, and ensuring the quality of construction in its public works infrastructure. . “