When citizens overwhelmingly voted for the city to help Wishard launch the project in November, we expected this private (non-government) project would provide jobs and boost our struggling construction industry. It now seems that most of us will instead get to watch as the same contractors that competed for the Central Library, Convention Center, airport expansion and Lucas Oil Stadium go shoulder to shoulder again while the remaining 80 percent of local construction contractors struggle to survive these economic times.I'll correct Jaffe on one point. The Wishard project is not a private project; it is a public project funded with public tax dollars.
The PLA agreement will stipulate that only union labor can be employed on the project. Approximately 80 percent of all construction contractors in the Indianapolis area of the state are open shop (non-union).
I've said it before and it bears repeating. The construction cartel has a stranglehold on Indianapolis politicians. Their generous campaign contributions help ensure a steady pipeline of projects for them. Because this is a public works project, the law requires the government to pay the common construction wage, which is essentially the prevailing union wage rate. Non-union contractors can perform work on public works projects as long as they pay that rate; however, by limiting the participants to union shops only, the construction cartel can eliminate much of the competition for these projects. It's no surprise that the mayor's chief of staff and a lobbyist for the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce announced they were going to work for major Indianapolis area construction companies shortly after the passage of the Wishard referendum--their reward for a job well done.