McDonnell showing support for 'right-to-work' for less laws
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has recently extended his anti-labor credentials by caving to extremists in his state on the topic of project labor agreements. A series of e-mails recently released show that he did not have a problem with PLAs until recently, after being pressured by extremists in his party who oppose the rights of working families.
Phase one of the expansion of the Dulles Metrotrail expansion in Northern Virginia was completed under a PLA and the second phase was set to be conducted the same way. Now McDonnell is saying that he won't proceed with the project unless the PLA is revoked. The move not only takes away rights from working families and shows that McDonnell is a flip-flopper who caves under pressure from extremists, it also endangers jobs in the state during fragile economic times:
The aforementioned revelations unearthed by the Washington Post shown that a compromise was agreed to in principal before objections from the right caused them to break down:
The e-mails were provided to The Washington Post by people who are sympathetic to the MWAA and who have been frustrated that McDonnell’s shift has drawn little attention.
The dozens of brief notes exchanged over a period of four months and a subsequent memorandum of understanding among Silver Line contributors show that Connaughton and Jack Potter, the MWAA chief executive, worked carefully on the wording before agreeing to a set of principles that enabled a mandatory project labor agreement.
“Sean, are you okay with the principle below?’’ Potter asked July 27.
“Yes,’’ Connaughton responded.
In November, in an apparent sign of continuing progress, the MWAA asked Connaughton where to send a copy of the agreement for his signature.
But the sentiment soon changed. Connaughton never signed an agreement for a PLA for Phase 2. In February, amid mounting Republican criticism of the PLA for Phase 1, the General Assembly enacted a law intended to prohibit PLAs on the Silver Line project.
Virginia’s “Right-to-Work” law draws definite distinctions between “mandatory” and “voluntary” PLAs. Now, Virginia lawmakers are caught up in a game of words that would be pure comedy if not for the jobs that hang in the balance.
Administration officials acknowledge that Connaughton had been negotiating. But they say it was for a voluntary PLA, not a mandatory one. Later, McDonnell sent a letter saying Virginia would not accept an agreement that violated the state’s right-to-work law. Such statutes prohibit a company and a union from signing a contract that requires workers to be union members.
But Potter said Virginia’s right-to-work law allows a mandatory project labor agreement. “I don’t think there was a comprehensive understanding of the right-to-work law.”
When it was finally decided that this PLA would not violate “Right-to-Work” McDonnell all but made a handshake agreement via who he appointed to handle negotiations. The Governor quickly pulled back after coming under fire from his own party.
McDonnell was facing heat from the conservative wing of his party. “They’re responding to the concerns of the legislature,’’ said Del. Robert G. Marshall, a conservative Republican from Prince William who is running for U.S. Senate and has been vocal on the issue. “He’s pulling back because Republicans are putting their foot down.”
Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) said McDonnell changed his mind on the PLA the same way he did when he initially agreed to give up to $300 million more for the project.
“That’s not what they had agreed to,’’ Herring said. “It was an about-face. There are certain voices in the governor’s party who didn’t agree and caused him to disagree.’’
MWAA board member Bob Brown said Connaughton had negotiated a mandatory PLA for Phase 2.
“It’s very clear and the records showed that. We had a handshake deal,’’ he said. “We have had to constantly change things to accommodate this guy. He’s made more noise than anyone at the table.’’