While Virginia has largely managed to stave off the economic distress experienced by California and Illinois, its citizens may soon be forced to swallow precisely the sort of uncompetitive, tax-raising policy which has contributed to the downfall of more prodigal states.
The massively expensive construction of a Dulles Rail line for the Metro transit system has been a controversial local issue for some time. Recently, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Board of Directors announced their decision to construct Phase 2 of the operation as a tunnel, which bumps the overall cost of the project up by $330 million. Garnering less attention, but of even greater moment, is a resolution passed by the MWAA requiring that construction proceed in accordance with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). As the Alliance for Worker Freedom has previously reported, such legal compacts unnecessarily exclude non-union labor from contracting at the state and federal level, bleeding taxpayers for jobs that should have gone to the lowest capable bidders.
Adding insult to injury, a majority of the board members are not even Virginia residents. Taxpayers in Loudon County, Fairfax County, and across the Commonwealth of Virginia will have to pay overcompensated union members’ salaries on the whim of the unaccountable MWAA. As of February 2011, Virginia’s unemployment rate was 2.9 percent below the national average. This is in part due to the Commonwealth being a “Right-to-Work” state, which has resulted in a mere 4% of its private workforce being unionized. As a consequence, the impending PLA mandate will favor out-of-state labor, excluding Virginia residents from construction jobs near their own homes.
The costs of this project are already $3.5 billion. If the PLA proposal stands, this number could be raised by 20%. Hopefully Virginians will take action before Big Labor interests take their money and put them out of jobs.