What is a Subscription Agreement?
If you have been logging onto the recent general information meetings you may have heard me use the term “subscription agreement” when speaking about non-union contractors working on Project Labor Agreement (PLA) projects. Before I explain the term, let me take a step back.
As I have previously shared, there are many benefits to a PLA. A PLA levels the contractor playing field and operational practices and ensure a harmonious work environment that will not disrupt the project. PLAs also allow the contracting agencies to adopt targeted worker goals such as local hire and veteran placement. In practical terms, PLA projects permit both union and non-union contractors to work side by side on projects, but the non-union contractor must follow specific rules in order to perform work on the specific project. In order for the non-union contractor to operate as a union contractor, he or she must establish a contractual relationship with the corresponding trade union.
The document that binds the union and the non-union contractor to a contractual relationship for this PLA-specific project is the “subscription agreement.” The subscription agreement must be established prior to the contractor commencing work on the project through the IBEW Compliance Office. The IBEW Compliance Office will vet the non-union contractors licensing and core manpower eligibility, secure insurance requirements, review the CBA and wage requirements directly with the nonunion contractor and execute the subscription agreement. Once the subscription agreement is fully executed, the contractor may request journeyman from the hall, report and pay benefits to the trust funds, request and obtain apprentices and is bound to specific terms of the CBA.
The process of setting up a subscription agreement can take up to two weeks depending on how quickly we can exchange the requisite contract documents. Also, a non-union contractor must establish a new subscription agreement and go through the whole process again for each PLA project he or she works on since the agreements are project-specific.
Note that if you are working for a non-union/subscription agreement contractor and they have transferred you to another project site, please feel free to reach out to IBEW Compliance Department to confirm that they have an active subscription agreement for the new site. Non-union/subscription agreement contractors may not utilize IBEW 11 members on non-PLA projects.
Veronica Martinez and Eric Brown