The “Silver” Isn’t Lining The Union Pockets — Silver Line To Proceed Without Union Preference


Perhaps they saw that Scott Walker defeated a recall attempt in Wisconsin and decided that momentum is moving against organized labor. Whatever the thought process, a log jam has been removed and a major project can move forward. On Wednesday, June 6, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (WMAA) agreed that Phase II of the Dulles Rail Project (extending the commuter rail line from Wiehle Avenue in Reston to Dulles Airport) can proceed without the pro-labor provision that has jeopardized project funding. The provision at issue would have awarded points to potential bidders that promised to use union labor on the project. Contractor bids are evaluated by WMAA, at least in part, on points awarded for any variety of factors, such as prior project experience and the strength of the contractor’s technical proposal. Thus, award of the project might not necessarily have gone to the lowest bidding contractor. For more than a year the debate raged, even reaching the floor of the Virginia Assembly. Virginia, a right to work state, threatened to withhold its share of project funding if MWAA insisted on the pro-labor provision. Already, Governor McDonnell has pledged $150 million from Virginia at the start of 2013 now that the pro-labor provision has been taken off the table. Those that applaud MWAA’s decision point out that the project costs will likely be lower, leading to lower costs both for taxpayers and commuters.

With this hurdle aside, the path is cleared to extend the Silver Line to Dulles Airport. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has yet to approve its portion of funding to carry the Silver Line past Dulles and into Loudoun County.