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Biden Signs Executive Order Requiring Union Labor On Federal Construction Projects

President Joe Biden signs the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 15, 2021, on the South Lawn of the White House.

UPDATE, FEB. 4, 4:35 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to reflect that President Joe Biden on Friday afternoon signed the executive order, which is effective immediately. 

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order requiring the use of collective bargaining agreements on federal construction projects costing more than $35M. The order is effective immediately.

The order could affect as much as $262B in federal government construction contracting and nearly 200,000 workers on such projects, the White House estimates, based on fiscal 2021 figures. 

It requires that "project labor agreements," a kind of collective bargaining agreement, be in place to set wages, employment conditions and the terms of dispute resolution on a given project. 

"Such agreements avoid labor-related disruptions on projects by using dispute-resolution processes to resolve worksite disputes and by prohibiting work stoppages, including strikes and lockouts," the executive order says. "They secure the commitment of all stakeholders on a construction site that the project will proceed efficiently without unnecessary interruptions."

A Biden executive order that took effect on Jan. 30 requires federal contractors in new or extended contracts to pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour, with further increases to be determined annually by the secretary of labor beginning in 2023.

The new order doesn't apply to projects funded by federal grants to nonfederal agencies, but it will apply to other federal spending on major projects, including those funded under the recently enacted infrastructure bill.

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that encouraged executive agencies to consider requiring the use of collective bargaining agreements for large-scale construction projects. Biden’s executive order is seen as expanding on that, The Hill reports.  

Biden signed the order during a visit to Ironworkers Local 5 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.