Building & Constr. Trades Council v. Associated Builders & Contractors of Mass./R. I., Inc., 507 U.S. 218, 14 (1993)

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Cite as: 507 U. S. 218 (1993)

Opinion of the Court

they provide relief, are not made specifically applicable to the State. This is because the State is excluded from the definition of the term "employer" under the NLRA, see 29 U. S. C. 152(2), and because the State, in any event, is acting not as an employer but as a purchaser in this case. Nevertheless, the general goals behind passage of 8(e) and (f) are still relevant to determining what Congress intended with respect to the State and its relationship to the agreements authorized by these sections.

It is evident from the face of the statute that in enacting exemptions authorizing certain kinds of project labor agreements in the construction industry, Congress intended to accommodate conditions specific to that industry. Such conditions include, among others, the short-term nature of employment which makes posthire collective bargaining diffi-cult, the contractor's need for predictable costs and a steady supply of skilled labor, and a longstanding custom of prehire bargaining in the industry. See S. Rep. No. 187, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 28, 55-56 (1959); H. R. Rep. No. 741, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 19-20 (1959).

There is no reason to expect these defining features of the construction industry to depend upon the public or private nature of the entity purchasing contracting services. To the extent that a private purchaser may choose a contractor based upon that contractor's willingness to enter into a pre-hire agreement, a public entity as purchaser should be permitted to do the same. Confronted with such a purchaser, those contractors who do not normally enter such agreements are faced with a choice. They may alter their usual mode of operation to secure the business opportunity at hand, or seek business from purchasers whose perceived needs do not include a project labor agreement. In the absence of any express or implied indication by Congress that a State may not manage its own property when it pursues its purely proprietary interests, and where analogous private conduct would be permitted, this Court will not infer such a


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