Veterans Administration Rejects Project Labor Agreements; Now Its Construction Projects are Fraught with Problems, Says BCTD
WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — After outright rejecting the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for its ambitious plans to construct several new hospital facilities across the United States, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now experiencing critical cost-overruns, massive scheduling delays, expensive quality issues, and accusations concerning the use of undocumented workers on projects being funded with taxpayer dollars.
The $600 million VA hospital project in Lake Nona, Florida is a prime example. A congressional field hearing conducted August 13, 2012, uncovered the fact that the project is now in excess of $100 million over-budget and is approximately a year behind schedule. The general contractor responsible for the project, Brasfield and Gorrie (B&G), is a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) a notorious anti-union contracting group that fiercely defends and promotes a business model predicated upon the use of a low-wage, low-skill, easily exploitable workforce. In addition to the cost overruns and scheduling issues, the field hearing uncovered the fact that there are numerous quality issues arising from this project, including rust and mold issues that will almost certainly add to the final, escalating cost of this project.
Even more disheartening was the fact that, in early 2011, federal and state agencies twice raided the Lake Nona project and found the rampant use of undocumented workers. One subcontractor was found to have hidden some of those workers in the heating and ventilation ducts during the raid.
Sadly, the 1.2-million-square-foot hospital under construction at Lake Nona Medical City isn’t the only VA project experiencing these types of problems.
Across the country, many VA medical construction projects are also far behind schedule. Of the four VA hospitals presently under construction, three are more than a year behind schedule, according to the U.S. House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs.
Among the 55 VA medical clinics authorized by Congress since 1998, five are completed, while 38 are behind schedule, and more than a third of those are delayed at least three years. One Jacksonville, FL clinic is more than 13 years behind schedule.
“In 2010, we specifically warned Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki that each and every one of these issues would arise if the VA embraced a ‘low road’ approach to its construction procurement policies,” said Sean McGarvey, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department. “It’s sad that taxpayer dollars are being wasted while the VA learns an inconvenient truth that was conceived by Ben Franklin over 200 years ago: ‘The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the cheap price is forgotten.’”
The Building and Construction Trades Department is an alliance of 13 national and international unions that collectively represent 2 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada.
SOURCE Building and Construction Trades Department