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Renovating Cannon

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Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, 8:51 p.m.

Worsening taxpayers' inevitable shafting from renovation of Washington's Cannon House Office Building is federal law that discriminates against nonunion firms and workers — and Obama-administration policy that encourages the same.

The 108-year-old, 800,000-square-foot building needs work: It poses more than 340 health and safety hazards, The Hill reports. Any taxpayer who's redone a kitchen knows this renovation's cost and timetable — a contract worth more than $550 million and running through 2025 has been awarded — will only grow. But it'll still cost taxpayers more than it should.

One reason is federal laws requiring “prevailing” — read “union” — wages when federal construction contracts exceed $2,000. So, even if a nonunion firm does Cannon renovation work, it'll pay the higher wages that unions dictate — and taxpayers won't save.

Then there's President Obama's Executive Order 13502, signed just days into his first term. It encourages federal agencies to require project labor agreements (PLAs) — no-strike pacts that shut out nonunion labor, raising costs — on projects costing more than $25 million.

The final Cannon renovation contract isn't public yet. But given how beholden this White House is to organized labor, bet that PLAs, which have to be negotiated, will be involved.

All this will make the renovated Cannon building one of Washington's biggest, most visible monuments — to unions' government-enabled extortion of taxpayers.

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