Last week, Progressive Maryland's 7/10 Black Workers Center secured a commitment to improve working conditions on school construction projects in Prince George's County. This is a major victory for workers and the community, and it is the result of years of hard work and continued advocacy for high quality employment opportunities.

“PLAs are a win-win for workers, the building trades, and the community. They provide good jobs for workers, create a stable workforce for employers, and help to ensure that construction projects are completed on time and on budget,” emphasized Shannon Talbert, Lead Organizer of Progressive Maryland’s Black Workers Center.  

The 7/10 Black Workers Center organized residents to contact County Executive, Angela Alsobrooks, and urge her to support a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that would include provisions for increased local hiring and the creation of union jobs.  A PLA is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement between a project owner and the building trades unions that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific project. PLAs are known for providing good wages, benefits for workers, and for promoting safety and efficiency on construction projects.  

The 7/10 Black Workers Center's efforts also brought attention to the issue of wage theft on the public-private partnership for new school construction in Prince George’s County. Wage theft is a serious problem in the construction industry, and it is especially harmful to low-wage workers. The 7/10 Black Workers Center's advocacy has helped to ensure that workers will be protected from wage theft on future school construction projects in the county. 

"Our efforts ensure that Black workers are able to provide for their families.  This victory ensures that students attend high quality schools, in well-resourced, 21st century buildings, and the people that build them make a living wage. Higher labor standards and better opportunities are the foundation of healthy, thriving communities," said Talbert. 

The 7/10 Black Workers Center's victory is a powerful example of what can be accomplished when workers and community members come together to fight for change. It is also a reminder that PLAs are an important tool for ensuring that workers are treated fairly and that construction projects are completed on time and on budget. 

Larry Stafford Jr.,Executive Director of Progressive Maryland, stated, "This achievement reflects the power of grassroots organizing and the determination of our community to fight for  workers' rights. We have proven that when we come together, we can secure a fair future for all in Prince George's County."

Benefits of Project Labor Agreements

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) benefit workers, the building trade, and the community in a number of ways. For workers, PLAs provide good wages and benefits, job security, and safe working conditions. For the building trade, PLAs create a stable workforce and promote efficiency on construction projects. For the community, PLAs help to ensure that local workers are hired and that projects are completed on time and on budget.

  • Good wages and benefits: PLAs require employers to pay workers prevailing wages and benefits. This means that workers will be paid a fair wage for their work, and they will have access to important benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings plans, and paid time off.
  • Job security: PLAs can help to create job security for workers by preventing employers from laying off workers during the course of a project. This is especially important for workers in the construction industry, where jobs can be seasonal and unpredictable.
  • Safe working conditions: PLAs typically include provisions for safety training and job site safety inspections. This helps to ensure that workers are safe on the job and that accidents are prevented.
  • Local hiring: PLAs can be used to promote local hiring by requiring employers to hire a certain percentage of local workers on a project. This helps to ensure that the benefits of construction projects are shared by the local community.
  • On-time and on-budget completion: PLAs can help to ensure that construction projects are completed on time and on budget by creating a stable workforce and promoting efficiency.