McNees Wallace & Nurick Represents J.D. Eckman, Inc. in Commonwealth Court Victory
January 11, 2019
HARRISBURG, Pa. – (January 11, 2019) McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC won a landmark appellate victory today in its representation of J.D. Eckman, Inc., a full-service construction company, before the Commonwealth Court.
With two landmark unanimous decisions, Commonwealth Court, sitting en banc, struck down a PennDOT bid process on which PennDOT proposed to require bidders and subcontractors to execute a Project Labor Agreement (“PLA”) with the Local Building Trades before they could work on the Project. The case arose when two separate contractors who routinely bid PennDOT projects, J.D. Eckman, Inc. and Allan Myers, L.P., filed Administrative Bid Protests with the Secretary of Transportation in late 2017 to challenge PennDOT’s imposition of a PLA. The two non-union firms both argued that the PLA requirement effectively precluded them from bidding a highway construction project in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The Secretary denied the two protests, and both contractors appealed to Commonwealth Court.
In companion opinions written by President Judge Leavitt, Commonwealth Court reversed the Secretary’s adjudication and cancelled PennDOT’s solicitation. In so ruling the Court noted that, notwithstanding the “lip service” contained in the PLA itself which indicated that firms could bid the Project regardless of any affiliation with a particular union, the PLA did not place non-union contractors on equal footing with union contractors. Rather, the Court noted that the contractors could not bid the Project with an unknown work force, and therefore the PLA “effectively precluded a non-union contractor” from participating in the bid solicitation. Commonwealth Court also distinguished several of its prior decisions which had previously upheld PLAs, and found that PennDOT did not establish extraordinary circumstances which would justify imposition of a PLA.
Eckman was represented in the matter by James W. Kutz of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC’s Construction and Procurement Group, and Myers was represented by the law firm of Cozen O’Connor.
McNees is a full-service law firm based in central Pennsylvania with more than 130 attorneys representing corporations, associations, institutions and individuals. The firm serves clients worldwide from offices in Harrisburg, Lancaster, State College and Scranton, PA; Columbus, OH; Frederick, MD; and Washington, D.C. McNees is also a member of the ALFA International Global Legal Network.