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Snohomish County sets standards for PLAs, local hiring

County Councilmember Megan Dunn: ‘Today’s vote underscores our county’s commitment to support our local workforce.’


EVERETT, Wash. (June 6, 2024) — The Snohomish County Council unanimously voted Wednesday to adopt a policy requiring Project Labor Agreements (PLA) and Priority Hire Requirements for any Snohomish County project costing more than $5 million. This landmark vote is a demonstration of the county’s commitment to supporting working families and ensuring fair labor practices across the region.

“Today’s vote underscores our county’s commitment to support our local workforce,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Megan Dunn, who championed the legislation. “By implementing priority hire requirements, we are not only investing in the infrastructure of our county but also investing in the well-being of our communities.”

Project Labor Agreements are collective bargaining agreements between unions and their employers, in this case the county, that establish terms and conditions of employment for a specific project. PLAs have a proven track record of fostering collaboration between labor and management, leading to safer worksites, increased efficiency, and ultimately, better outcomes for everyone involved. PLAs also include no-strike and no-lockout clauses that will help ensure that county projects are completed on time and on budget.

“Project Labor Agreements are an answer to the opportunity gaps in our county for minority-owned businesses, localized thriving wage job creation, future workforce development through apprenticeship, and overall economic prosperity for all our communities,” said Charlotte Murry, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Snohomish & Island County Labor Council.

“Project Labor Agreements ensure fair wages, benefits, and working conditions for all workers on a construction project, improving efficiency and quality while providing local workers with job opportunities, meanwhile securing a trained workforce for the future,” said Ethan Pfahl, Field Agent for LiUNA Local 292.

Following the success of establishing apprenticeship utilization requirements for all county projects over $1 million, the implementation of this ordinance includes priority hire stipulations intended to establish equitable workforce entry points. Through the priority hire requirements, 20 percent of the workers on any county project over $5 million utilizing a PLA must reside in a distressed zip code in Snohomish County. Other stipulations include mentorship, respectful workplace, and parking provisions, as well as provisions to ensure access to childcare — a groundbreaking provision essential to stabilizing the economy.

“Sheet Metal Workers Local 66 would like to thank Councilmember Dunn for working on this ordinance,” said Sam Hem, Assistant Regional Manager and Director of Organizing for SMART Local 66. “The pathway for future generations of workers will have fewer barriers for the residence of Snohomish County when this ordinance passes. As a labor representative for construction workers in Snohomish County, I personally look forward to seeing the families that will be brought into living wage jobs.”

It is estimated that the county administers between five and eight projects at a time that would meet this threshold. Ordinance 24-040 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025 and apply to Snohomish County Projects over $5 million.

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