Prince George's County Council Stands Firm in Defense of Project Labor Agreements Amidst Concerns Over Phase 2 of P3 Project

Prince George's County, Maryland, is at a pivotal juncture as concerns mount over the fate of Phase 2 of the P3 project. County Council Member Edward Burroughs, representing District 8, has voiced strong apprehensions regarding the direction the project is taking. Burroughs' statements highlight the County Executive's stance and its potential impact on the future of this significant endeavor.

"The dream of expediting school construction for our students in dilapidated buildings seems to have lost its way under County Executive Alsobrooks' leadership," Council Member Burroughs expressed, reflecting on the project's initial goals.  

The P3 project, initiated with the admirable goal of expediting school construction and addressing the dire state of many school buildings, appears to be at risk of losing sight of its original objectives under County Executive Angela Alsobrooks' leadership. Council Member Burroughs has expressed profound disappointment in the missed opportunities to uplift Prince George County residents, especially the local workforce and local minority businesses.

"When you have a billion-dollar project occurring in a two-year time period, you have a lot of opportunity to uplift Prince George County residents, in addition to getting the schools built. As county leaders, we must also figure out how to leverage those dollars to uplift Prince George County residents," Burroughs emphasized, lamenting the missed opportunities.

Burroughs emphasizes that a key concern is the lack of substantial mandatory hiring of Prince George County residents and the absence of safeguards against wage theft and exploitation of workers, issues that have surfaced during the first phase of the P3 project. He contends that the economic benefits of this billion-dollar project are not adequately reaching the black and brown residents of Prince George County.

In a recent interview, Burroughs drew parallels to the visionary approach of former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who leveraged his power to ensure that DC residents, especially minority populations, benefitted from large-scale economic development projects.

Burroughs is committed to ensuring that Phase 2 of the P3 project focuses on the well-being of Prince George County residents and prioritizes project labor agreements (PLAs) as a means to guarantee fair wages, worker protections, and the engagement of local businesses.

When asked about the apparent resistance to PLAs, Burroughs pointed out that County Executive Alsobrooks holds the key to making a positive change. He highlighted the importance of county executives negotiating with major companies to mandate the hiring of Prince George County residents, partner with labor unions to ensure worker protections, and address issues like wage theft and exploitation.

Burroughs underscored the need for transparency in the process, advocating for independent audits of all contractors and the public's right to access information about the project's impact on the community. He firmly believes that taxpayers' dollars should be reinvested in the local community rather than benefit out-of-town contractors.

"I will not be voting for a P3 project without a PLA attached to it. I've sat with too many workers who have been exploited to do that. This money is taxpayer money, and the question is, are we gonna recirculate that money back into our community to uplift our own residents?"

Council Member Burroughs expressed concerns that the County Executive's administration and the school superintendent may very well send down an MOU for them to sign that includes no Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and then blame the Council if the schools are delayed or not built. He described this situation as a dangerous game of chicken, where the County Executive's office attempts to shift the responsibility to the Council.

In closing, Council Member Burroughs highlighted the importance of elected officials standing up for their constituents and urged his colleagues on the County Council to prioritize PLAs as a means to protect workers, uplift local businesses, and create a more equitable future for Prince George's County.

"We must base public policy on what's in the best interest of the people of the county. And Project Labor Agreements have the ability to literally pull people out of poverty and pull them into the middle class with health care and benefits and retirement and scholarships for further education."

The conversation took place during an interview with the Executive Director of Progressive Maryland, Larry Stafford Jr., on his  radio show, 'The Progress Report,' shedding light on the pressing concerns surrounding the Phase 2 of the P3 project and the pivotal role Project Labor Agreements play in it