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Work to Rule Regarding Safety on PLA’s is NOT…

a strike(s), sympathy strike(s), work stoppages, picketing, slowdowns, interference with the work or other disruptive activity by the Trades on a PLA job.

This is what is being told to union building trades members throughout the U.S. by officers of the respective Internationals where Work to Rule is unfolding on PLA’s, and even a couple of specialty agreements’ sites.

The first paragraph above is typical “boiler plate” language found under Work Stoppages and Lockouts on PLA contracts.

Work to Rule is doing EXACTLY the work under the rules you signed off on regarding safety when you hired on to the PLA job. Most, if not all, of those PLA’s state that those employed WILL (very powerful word) adhere to OSHA, Construction Safety Act, respective state OSHA, applicable other safety provisos AND that contractor’s/company’s safety plan. The company’s/contractor’s safety plan is a huge “GOT YA” you most likely missed because it is frequently buried in the maze of safety documents that were shove in front of you to sign in a short timeframe!


You may want to get the name, title & date of those officers who misinform you that Work to Rule in regard to safety is in ANY form a work disruption. Just in case, God forbid, you are hurt, you want to have that name handy because once injured you may need it in court. We all want to honor our commitment to the LETTER of safety on PLA sites. However, once hurt, those PLA jobs are going to work hard to limit and/or deny any claim or compensation to the degree they can.

Comparative negligence is building across the trades’ spectrum of work on the union and non-union sides. On the non-union side, workers hurt on the job have a poor chance against the contractor and recovery.

On the union side, our skills typically reduce the chance of an accident right up to the time of an accident. Our egos also play a role, in that we think we may be working within the LETTER of the contractor’s safety rules. When hurt, we are exposed to the contractor’s specific work rules not being followed to the letter and have to fight to receive any compensation. It is a big reason why we all see millions of ads from comp & injury lawyers across the country in approximately that last decade.

Those safety folks 12” on center on the job are partly there for OUR safety. But they play a dual role in that they document EVERYTHING they can, which favors the contractors in court once an injury occurs.

Touting our skills can be a double edge sword. We often feel we know how to do the job even though we also know when we are outside of the safety rules even for the briefest of time. Also, when we find ourselves fighting for compensation due to an injury, a court will highly consider that we absolutely knew better because of all our training, most of all, our SAFETY training. That fact will raise the comparative negligence factor by the contractors’ attorneys to nullify/limit recovery!

In this day of judging all actions workers make on a PLA job – to then cripple our chances of any sane compensation once injured working for THOSE CONTRACTORS – why would we play roulette with our safety, livelihood and that of our families?

Work to Rule regarding safety on PLA’s is what the Internationals & the contractors demand us to do. They make us sign off on it. Remember you can stop the job if safety is in question or not being followed. Get safety involved on any and all questionable issues regarding safety and have them there when the work is performed. Specific questions need to be asked at the Toolbox Safety meeting and at the jobsite safety meetings with specific written safety plan for your day’s job within all GOVERNING safety documents pertaining to that job! OSHA is a standard; however, the contractors up the ante with their own safety rules in addition to OSHA’s. Having them watching you is a way to ensure that if injured you are covered. And, as we all know, should an unplanned jobsite event occur safety is conspicuously absent. Those days need to be over! The contractors need to be present to sign off on our safety and limit to a high degree the possibility of denying an injured worker the damages owed.

The days of completing a job off the backs of our skills offered in a good workman-like manner need to be done when they now also hammer us and our families when injured. The job will get done when it gets done per the letter of safety on PLA’s. The Internationals are part and parcel to this – it is also their names on every PLA contract.

Who knew it was a WARNING all along? Treat it as such! Snap out of it!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising


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