Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) recently released its annual update to “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard,” which takes stock of state policies that influence the success or failure of a free enterprise-based environment for construction companies.
The scorecard highlights states where merit shop contractors are well positioned to succeed and calls attention to states where strategic improvements need to be made based on their policies on prevailing wage, project labor agreement (PLA) mandates and Right to Work status as well as their commitment to developing a well-trained workforce, career and technical education (CTE) opportunities and results, and use of public-private partnerships (P3s).
The 2017 scorecard features some changes at the top of the rankings and major progress for a handful of states. For example, Virginia moved up a spot to No. 1, Arkansas went from 20 to second place, and Arizona remained in the top tier, landing at number three. Arkansas’ leap to number two can be attributed to its full repeal of prevailing wage to accompany existing policies on PLAs and Right to Work as well as perfect marks in other graded criteria. Meanwhile, Wisconsin continues its steady climb, moving up 10 spots over the past two years, thanks to a repeal of its prevailing wage law, passing ABC’s PLA neutrality legislation, and its continued progress on Right to Work policies. Kentucky moved from 32 to 21 in one year after repealing Right to Work and prevailing wage laws. Conversely, Illinois, Washington, and New York ranked as the three worst environments for merit shop contractors. Each received an “F” grade for their policies on PLA and prevailing wage mandates and failure to adopt a Right to Work law; they also received poor marks for their workforce development incentive programs.
“ABC is committed to promoting free enterprise-based policies that will improve business climates and ensure a level playing field for all contractors,” said ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “We believe that the Merit Shop Scorecard can help promote policies that will attract additional business investment and benefit state economies as a whole by providing valuable information for policymakers, contractors, construction users and other industry stakeholders while focusing on specific areas where strategic improvements can be made.”
The merit shop philosophy is the belief that people and companies succeed based on free enterprise principles within the free market system, which is characterized by open and fair competition and diverse participants. Those who adhere to the philosophy believe employees and employers have the right to determine wages and working conditions through either individual or collective bargaining, as they choose, within the boundaries of the law.
The Merit Shop Scorecard was developed with input from ABC chapters and industry stakeholders across the country. A full list of state rankings, as well as criteria and definitions, is available at meritshopscorecard.org. The scorecard is also updated with exclusive state construction unemployment rate estimates from economist Bernard Markstein, Ph.D.