Ahead of President Joe Biden’s first congressional address, Associated Builders and Contractors issued the following statement from Michael Bellaman, its president and CEO, on key merit shop construction industry priorities that should be considered by the administration.

“As President Biden prepares to address a joint session of Congress, Associated Builders and Contractors recommends that he embrace bipartisan ideas to help our economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild America with the best possible construction firms and workers at the best possible price for hardworking taxpayers. Doing so will keep America’s economy competitive, help small businesses recover as they create fulfilling careers in construction, and maximize efficient investments in clean energy and resilient infrastructure for the 21st century.

“Congress and the Biden administration must promote fair and open competition on any taxpayer-funded infrastructure plan so that all of America’s experienced contractors and talented construction workers are welcome to rebuild their communities. Unfortunately, controversial language in the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan calls on Congress to tie federal investment in infrastructure to costly government-mandated project labor agreements. These PLA schemes exclude the 87.3% of our workforce that chooses to work in a nonunion, merit shop environment with an employer of their choice from participating in the nation’s economic recovery and rebuilding their communities. Eliminating artificial barriers to competition for small businesses and allowing all workers to freely choose whether to affiliate with unions are important cornerstones of fair and cost-effective infrastructure projects. Worker choice allows each individual who has different desires to pursue their career dreams in their unique way. Having this choice is what America is all about.

“Despite exclusion from competing fairly in building infrastructure, nonunion merit shop construction companies will be taxed through current and anticipated tax increases from the Biden administration. For example, the infrastructure plan’s tax increases on small businesses would take 15 years to cover the plan’s price tag, which would negatively affect job-creating construction firms that are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We also encourage President Biden to preserve worker privacy rights, the independent contractor economy and right-to-work laws approved by taxpayers in 27 states, which are all threatened by the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. President Biden urged Congress to pass the PRO Act as part of the American Jobs Plan. 

“ABC is ready to work collaboratively with the administration and Congress to reform our broken immigration system, expand apprenticeship opportunities to meet current and future workforce demand, create opportunities for all to pursue a long-term career in construction and drive America’s economic prosperity. We also applaud the administration for a rapid and successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a critical step in getting America back on the path to recovery from the devastating toll of the disease. ABC will continue to offer productive solutions to Congress and the Biden administration to improve our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy and give every worker a chance to achieve the American dream.”