UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (DC News Now) — Labor unions in Prince George’s County are hoping the Board of Education would consider a project labor agreement that would ensure fair wages, and job opportunities for residents as the school system prepares to build 8 new schools.
“I have to go so far, like hour and a half way to work,” said Lason Middleton with the carpenter union.
Finding good work for good pay means Middleton and some other union laborers in Prince George’s County must leave the county for work.
“Give the people a chance that live in that county,” Middleton said.
That could happen if developers agree to hire a percentage of union workers from the county to build the second phase of new schools under a Public Private Partnership (P3).
“That’s how you build a tough strong county,” said Jason Williams, a carpenter apprentice.
The project labor agreement would ensure fair wages and help hire people from the county, especially those in apprenticeships and CTE programs.
“We want to make sure these agreements come through. That everyone has the opportunity to get the best labor possible with those who are in their county, and that’s the most organic way,’ said Williams.
“We’re not asking to have the whole enchilada, we just want a piece of the pie,” said union leader Lamar Mutts. “We want to ensure that young men and women is coming into our program has a continued career path.”
The decision lies in the hands of the state’s Board of Education. During a board meeting on Sept. 21, board members spent hours discussing the idea of project labor agreement. Some board members say they never read over the email sent over from the labor union, while others say they needed more time to discuss the topic since many board were members were not on the same page.
Board members also had concern on whether a PLA would delay the new school construction.
“Shovels are not going in the ground tomorrow. It’s going to still take about a year process down the road, but we are committed to getting things done on time,” Mutts said.
The board plans to discuss the topic during Thursday’s virtual meeting.