A federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana recently ruled that Louisiana’s ban on project labor agreements on public works projects was neither unconstitutional nor preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In Southeast Louisiana Building and Construction Trades Council v. State of Louisiana, 13-370 (E.D. La. May 27, 2015), a consortium of unions brought suit against the state after being informed by the City of New Orleans that it would not enter into a project labor agreement from the construction of a hospital; they sought to enjoin enforcement of Act 134, passed by the Louisiana legislature in 2011.
The plaintiffs contended that Section 8(f) of the NLRA specifically permitted the use of “pre-hire agreements”—i.e., agreements between a union and employer covering not-yet-hired employees—in the construction industry. The plaintiffs contended that because the NLRA permitted such arrangements, Louisiana’s ban on such agreements was preempted.
The district court rejected this argument, holding that Act 134 intended to govern the purchase of construction services on public works contracts with state funds: “Act 134 evidences the State’s entry into the market, whether legislatively or through individual public entities’ contracting decisions.”