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The concept of double-breasting in the construction industry did not emerge until the mid-1960’s and early 1970’s. Not until the late 1970’s did the technique begin to pervade the industry. Whatever the cause behind this trend, double-breasting has now become a common practice, and a problem of great concern for companies and unions alike. Few issues in the field of labor law are at once so frequently raised yet so difficultly resolved. Traditionally, double-breasting occurs when a contractor, who is bound by one or more collective bargaining agreements, establishes another company, in the same area, which is not similarly bound. The contractor’s primary motivation for establishing this second company is generally to enable him to successfully bid on jobs which do not require union contractors. Because of higher labor costs, the unionized company will almost always be underbid for these jobs. If he is successful in his double-breasting attempt, the contractor will enjoy the best of both worlds. His union company can continue to bid on jobs requiring union contractors. Meanwhile, his nonunion operation can competitively bid on other jobs.

As expected, unions do not passively accept double-breasting. They feel that the employer is attempting to circumvent their rights under the collective bargaining agreement. Any of several methods may be used against the employer in this situation.

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