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Freedom Foundation Exposes Sound Transit’s Union Connection

With Puget Sound residents poised to vote in the coming weeks on a massive $54 billion expansion plan by Sound Transit, it’s worth considering whether the agency is worth trusting with that kind of an investment.

In a guest opinion published in the Seattle Times this week, Freedom Foundation Economic Policy Fellow Amber Gunn notes that Sound Transit’s fiscal policies raise real questions about its true priorities. Specifically, she focuses on a project labor agreement (PLA) adopted by Sound Transit in 1999 that effectively forces non-union contractors to behave like union contractors.

Under the PLA, for example, all craft employees must by hired through union hiring halls, union compensation passes though union trust accounts, and open-shop contractors must pay agency fees that amount to 94 percent of union dues.

The arrangement makes perfect sense for organized labor leaders, who want to eliminate the financial advantage their non-union competitors have. But it makes zero sense for Washington taxpayers, whose primary concern is getting infrastructure projects built at a competitive price, not paying inflated prices to subsidize union inefficiency.

Read the full report here.