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1999 Alaska Attorney General Reports and Opinions 1 (1999)

handle is hein.sag/sagak0004 and id is 1 raw text is: MEMORANDUM                                     State of Alaska
Department of Law
TO:  Joseph L. Perkins, P.E.                   DATE:  January 6, 1999
Department of Transportation            FILE NO.:  665-98-0098
TELEPHONE NO.:  451-2811
SUBJECT:  Legality of Project Labor
FROM: Paul R. Lyle
Assistant Attorney General
The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (department) is
exploring the use of a specification in selected rural airport construction contracts that
requires successful bidders to enter into project labor agreements. The agreements would
require the contractor to obtain workers for that project exclusively through a union or
trade council job referral system that would recruit and train workers, including those in
the immediate community, to perform work on the project. You have asked whether
project labor agreements may be lawfully required in airport construction contracts in
rural communities. While our opinion is tailored to this specific issue, the analysis in this
opinion applies to all departmental construction projects.
The draft specification we have reviewed appears to require the successful
bidder to negotiate a project labor agreement after obtaining a construction contract.
However, project labor agreements are usually negotiated between owners and unions
before the contract is advertised for bids. See, e.g., Building & Trades Council v.
Associated Builders and Contractors, 113 S.Ct. 1190, 1192-93 (1993) (Boston
Harbor). This approach is necessary in order to ensure a level competitive playing field
for prospective bidders. Bidders cannot bid on a contract if they cannot ascertain the
labor rules with which they will be required to comply once the contract is awarded.
Therefore, this memorandum assumes that the department would undertake to negotiate
with an appropriate trades council the terms of the project labor agreement before any
rural airport construction project requiring use of a project labor agreement was put out to
bid. The project labor specification would need to be revised to require the successful
bidder to sign the project labor agreement as a condition precedent to the award of the

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