Penn Hills sued over school bid restriction

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Penn Hills sued over school bid restriction

Post  HopefulInPh on Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:04 am

Penn Hills sued over school bid restriction

By Tony LaRussa
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A construction trade group is suing Penn Hills School District for restricting work on its planned $130 million school construction project to union members.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Pennsylvania, or ABC, on behalf of Penn Hills residents James Kundrat and Robert Miller, asks a Common Pleas judge to strip the so-called "project labor agreement" from bid requirements.

In a separate filing, ABC asked the court to take immediate action because officials are scheduled to open bids for the project, which includes a high school and elementary center, on Oct. 21.

"We're not looking to stop the bidding process or get in the way of the schools being built," said Thomas E. Weiers Jr., the attorney who filed the lawsuit. "All we're asking is that the PLA be taken out so we can have the lowest responsible bidder doing the work, not just the lowest bidder willing to accept the PLA."

In August, Community College of Allegheny County officials halted bidding on a $21 million science center project after a group including ABC sued the college for requiring construction firms adhere to a labor agreement.

Penn Hills solicitor Craig Alexander did not return messages seeking comment. But following the Aug. 30 meeting at which the board added the labor agreement to its specifications, he expressed confidence the district would prevail against legal challenges.

ABC's lawsuit contends, among other things, that the school board improperly based its decision on a study it received from Harrisburg-based Keystone Research Center. Of the 15 board members listed on Keystone Research's website, 12 are affiliated with labor unions.

Stephen Herzenberg, one of the economists who prepared the $15,000 study for the school district, said his organization is a "nonpartisan think tank" with expertise in construction.

"We have a board with union members, but the board also has members of other constituencies," Herzenberg said.

The group's other board members are representatives of three colleges, a retired Episcopal bishop and the member of a York County nonprofit.

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Penn Hills school construction labor suit dismissed

Post  Rosedale Resident on Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:40 pm

Penn Hills school construction labor suit dismissed

By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A judge has turned down a construction trade group's request that the Penn Hills School District be stopped from restricting work on its $130 million school building project to union members.

Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Pennsylvania, or ABC, sued the school district in Common Pleas Court because it included a project labor agreement as a condition for contractors to be awarded the contract.

In denying the lawsuit on Tuesday, Judge Paul F. Lutty Jr. wrote that, among other things, proceeding with the lawsuit would "...delay the school construction project, adversely affecting the public and would cause more harm than good."

Bob Glancy, ABC's chairman, said the organization is considering an appeal to Commonwealth Court.

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