By Jason Kauppi
City councilors floated the idea last month to require a percentage of workers on school construction projects to live in Worcester. They also suggested hiring only union workers by entering a project labor agreement with organized labor.
The moves came in support of a request by the mayor for a report on whether a percentage of local workers could be negotiated in contracts for construction of the new South High Community School, and on whether the South High and Doherty Memorial High school replacement projects would qualify for project labor agreements, also known as PLAs. These pre-bid agreements between a project owner and one or more unions require that only union labor be used in exchange for provisions that include a no-strike clause.
Residency requirements and PLAs have been heavily litigated and there is considerable case law against them. The wiser course is for the city to follow state public bidding laws.
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