Business Leaders Call for Rejecting Rail PLA
Area Chambers support returning to labor agreement of Silver Line Phase 1 as stakeholders prepare for Wednesday's meeting with LaHood.
Update, May 3: The stakeholders met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Wednesday. While LaHood told The Washington Post the meeting moved the ball forward in the discussion, no decisions were made.
LaHood told the Post the incentive on the project labor agreement is a “sticking point” for Virginia and Loudoun officials. He said he plans to call a meeting with the airports authority and Virginia officials to “work out the project labor issue to the satisfaction” of both.
LaHood said he had “every confidence that this project will move forward.”
No date has been set for the next meeting.
Original story May 2: Stakeholders in Metrorail's Silver Line Phase 2 will meet with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Wednesday in the hopes of staving off a delay - or perhaps a collapse - of plans for the rail to run to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County.
Local business leaders hope that abandoning the project labor agreement will be part of the plan to move forward.
“We are calling on all funding partners to encourage MWAA to drop the PLA preference and focus on the desired outcomes — not terminology”, Tony Howard, president of the Loudoun County Chamber, said in a statement.
At issue is whether unionized labor should be given an advantage in getting contracts for project. In screening bids, MWAA wants to give a 10-percent bonus to contractors who agree to a project labor agreement.
Mark Ingrao, president and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce says his chamber and others nearby support going back to the system used to construct Phase 1, which will run from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue. Phase 1 is expected to be finished in late 2013.
“Every prime contractor responding to the MWAA contract process should clearly understand that the funding partners expect them to provide a well-qualified and reliable workforce to build Phase 2 of the project — as clearly stated in the memorandum of understanding negotiated through the leadership of Secretary LaHood," Ingrao said. "As evidence of the advantage this approach yields, one needs only to look to the success in Phase 1 that focused on workforce qualification issues and performance standards.”
Virginia Senate candidate and former governor Tim Kaine (D) was in Reston on Friday to voice is support as well.
The stakeholders are meeting with LaHood after MWAA said last week it would not put out requests for bids on the project until Loudoun County supervisors vote on whether to help pay for the project. The supervisors have until July 4. Fairfax Supervisors reconfirmed their support last week.
Phase 2 is scheduled to run from Reston's Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County. However, there is growing concern about no federal funding, a dearth of state funding (Virginia lawmakers passed an $85 billion budget last week with no extra money for Metro), tolls that could increase exponentially in order to cover rail costs and a mandatry project-labor agreement.
Last year, LaHood helped negotiate a deal among the stakeholders in the project -- MWAA, Metro, Loudoun and Fairfax counties, and Virginia -- on how to finance the nearly $3 billion rail line.
Construction on the second phase, which runs to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County, was expected to start in early 2013.