By CARL GREEN
Collinsville – The Metro East has already won recognition as a place where the advanced labor-management concept of Project Labor Agreements works to everyone’s advantage.
It means contractors can rely on having the right number of union-trained workers ready when they need them, that projects will get done on time and on budget, and that those workers are more likely to stay employed.
See related story: Labor-management cooperation works very well in Metro East
On June 9, both the Glen Carbon and Pontoon Beach village boards voted to use PLAs. Both are growing communities with room for more. Glen Carbon has one of the highest per capita incomes in the region while Pontoon Beach has hosted much development of distribution warehouses along its interstate highways.
Dale Stewart, executive secretary/treasurer of the Southwestern Building and Construction Trades Council, was delighted to see the two towns join an already lengthy list. “It means a lot to us,” he said.
He noted that board members supported by the Council and labor voters in recent elections helped push the measures through in both cities.
“So electing our friends pays off,” he said. “They worked very hard to get those passed for us.
PLA ALL OVER
In Glen Carbon, with three new board members, the vote was 4-2. In Pontoon Beach, the vote was unanimous.
Glen Carbon had 12,934 residents in the 2010 census, up 24 percent, while Pontoon Beach had 5,836, up 4 percent. Earlier this year, the retail and commercial center Fairview Heights also voted for PLA. Its population was 17,078 in the census, up 14 percent.
Many of the larger metro-east communities are already signed on to PLA, including Collinsville, Edwardsville, Granite City, Alton, Wood River and Bethalto, among others; plus Madison County, St. Clair County, Montgomery County, Randolph County, school districts and the major colleges and universities.
Glen Carbon Mayor Rob Jackstadt, who did not vote on the measure, questioned why the village board did not take more time to study it.
Stewart said he has met with the village frequently. “It was three years ago that I was meeting with the subcommittee,” he said.
Glen Carbon Trustee Ross Breckenridge told the Belleville News-Democrat that it’s a matter of getting the job done right and hiring local people.
“With PLAs, we ensure that these apprentices are being verifiably trained, and when they come out to do a construction job for us, they are doing it right.
“I’d rather use local people,” he added. “There are 520 union members just in Glen Carbon who will benefit from this. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to help your own citizens.”
Pontoon Beach Trustee Chris Hankins, an organizer for IBEW Local 309, and Mayor Mike Pagano, a member of 309, found their board receptive to their description of PLAs.
Hankins said he and Pagano stressed that PLA makes work stoppages unlikely, keeps local labor involved and ensures that workers are skilled and trained.
“They were happy with all of that,” he said. “They said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”