Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens signed legislation Tuesday banning local governments from giving preferential treatment to union contractors on taxpayer-funded construction projects.
The new law effectively bans “project labor agreements” (PLAs), where local municipalities require contractors to pay union wages and adhere to union standards when working on a publicly funded construction project.
Under the new law, Missouri cities and counties that require PLAs could be penalized with a loss of funding from the state, according to the St. Louis Dispatch. The law goes into effect Aug. 28.
“We’ve sent a very clear message and that is that Missouri is open for business,” Greitens said at the signing ceremony Tuesday. He was joined by Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who briefly ran for president during the 2016 Republican primary.
Walker became a national GOP figure after fighting big labor in his home state of Wisconsin. He won two terms as governor and successfully beat back a recall attempt in 2012. Walker recently signed a similar measure in Wisconsin and happened to be in St. Louis for a fundraising event.
“Project Labor Agreements not only drive up the cost of projects because of union featherbedding and inefficient work rules, but they discriminate against the 86 percent of American construction workers who choose not to join a union, by effectively banning companies with nonunion workers from bidding on such contracts,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“PLAs are a nothing more than a handout to construction union bosses at the expense of taxpayers and nonunion workers,” Semmens said.
Republicans have argued that PLAs give an unfair advantage to labor unions and leads to cost increases and inefficiencies. Opponents to the measure argue that the measure takes power away from localities and is an obvious effort to take down labor unions.
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