Cloquet officials to reconsider repeal of project labor agreements

The City Council had previously voted to eliminate the agreements at its May 4 meeting.

Cloquet City Hall.jpg
Cloquet City Hall (File / Pine Journal)

Following a request from Ward 2 council member Sheila Lamb, the Cloquet City Council will reconsider its recent decision to repeal a city ordinance requiring project labor agreements.

Since 2017, Cloquet has implemented PLAs in all city construction projects, requiring contractors to abide by certain terms, such as timelines, working conditions and budgets.

The original proposal to abolish the agreements first came after litigation was brought against the city in January based on the enforcement of PLAs, which have previously been accused of being discriminatory toward independent contractors.

Although the council has since removed the portion of the city’s PLA that prohibited nonunion workers from bidding on city projects, city staff still believed that further action was necessary to avoid future legal issues.

People against PLAs argued that they favored union workers and prevented fair competition for project bidding, while those in favor of PLAs claimed that they worked to ensure workers ’ rights are protected and that jobs stay local.


After a month of extensive public comment and council discussion, the council voted 4-3 to eliminate PLAs from city code on Tuesday, May 4.

However, due to Lamb ’s recent motion for reconsideration, the council will soon revisit its vote.

Lamb, who had previously voted in favor of eliminating the agreements, brought forward a motion for reconsideration at the city council meeting held Tuesday, May 18.

She explained that upon further investigation and discussions with the city of Duluth and local union representatives, she thought it would be best to revisit the subject.

Ward 3 council member Chris Swanson also spoke in favor of the reconsideration, explaining that he had voted in favor of keeping PLAs during the original council action.

"I think it’s a good decision," he said.

The council voted 4-2 to revisit the repeal of the city ordinance requiring PLAs, with Ward 4 council member Kerry Kolodge absent.

Due to Kolodge's absence and wanting to allow adequate time for public input, the council has tabled the discussion of PLAs until the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 1.

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