PHA and Labor Unions Reach Historic Partnership

(Philadelphia, PA - June 19, 2014) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has reached a precedent-setting agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) that will change the way the agency obtains labor for long-term, major construction projects.

The agency has negotiated a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the construction labor unions that contains "affordable housing rates," resulting in a significant reduction in costs.  Essentially, PHA and BCTC have agreed to a twenty percent (20%) reduction in construction wages and benefits, which will enable PHA to build six family homes for the cost of five. The agreement also requires the employment of PHA residents, as well as women, and includes work rules that promote efficiencies and the timely completion of construction projects.

"This is an historic agreement that has been reached between PHA and the Building and Construction Trades Council," said Kelvin A. Jeremiah, PHA President and CEO. "The agreement is beneficial on many levels for PHA- not only will the reduction in labor costs aid PHA in its goal to provide 6,000 affordable housing units in five years, but the agreement will also help secure more jobs for PHA residents, women, and minorities."

Both President Barack Obama and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter have signed executive orders encouraging the use of PLAs in connection with large-scale projects to promote economy and efficiency while maintaining high standards of construction.

"By adopting a Project Labor Agreement strategy, the Philadelphia Housing Authority has taken a significant step toward increasing its capacity to build affordable housing in this city at affordable costs," Mayor Nutter said. "As the PHA Board noted in the resolution it adopted, our Administration initiated a PLA process in 2011, which ensures greater employee diversity at worksites along with timely completion and cost management of major public works projects."

The agreement runs five years and covers construction and major rehabilitation projects of over $5 million. It contains the following affirmative employment requirements:

  • At least 25 percent of all employees covered by this agreement shall be PHA residents
  • At least 20 percent of all employees covered by the agreement shall be women
  • At least 20 percent of all employees covered by the agreement shall be minorities

Jeremiah also commended the PHA Board of Commissioners for its support and thanked Mayor Nutter, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and the unions for working cooperatively and collaboratively with the agency.

"This historic agreement between the building trades and PHA means more jobs, less wasteful overtime, and more quality affordable housing for Philadelphia residents: a win-win-win," Council President Clarke said. "I am grateful to the building trades and to Kelvin Jeremiah of PHA for their commitment to City Council's workforce housing strategy. The need for affordable housing in Philadelphia only keeps growing, and this agreement brings our goal of 2,000 new units closer to reality."

"We are excited to be a part of this historic agreement that brings stability to our workforce," said Sam Staten, Jr., Business Manager for Laborers Local 332. "We look forward to our continued partnership with Kelvin Jeremiah and the Housing Authority and being a part of the solution to bring more affordable housing to Philadelphia."

The U.S. Department of Labor must approve the agreement to make it final.