Construction industry is more than union vs. non-union

February 26, 2016

by Nick Novak

This column was originally published by The Daily Reporter.

Are you a union contractor or a non-union contractor?

For the partisans in this debate, it’s an important question. And for the activists, it’s the only question. It’s how they distinguish one company from another — a good company from a bad one.

Partisans and activists mostly see things in black and white. It is the idea of an opposing force that fuels their passion. However, I suspect that for many in our industry (most construction users included), the answer to this question is less significant.

That is why we at Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin promote merit-shop construction. The term “merit shop” is a way to get beyond this decades-old debate and concentrate on what construction users demand and what most of the industry (partisans and activists aside) desire.

Merit shop is about open competition and free enterprise, regardless of labor affiliation. Not only should the best contractor win a project, that contractor should be able to hire union companies or merit-shop companies — or even both. Again, it should be about the getting the highest-quality product.

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