- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 19 Jul 2018
Open shop construction
In the United States, open shop construction (also known as merit shop) is work done using non-unionised labour. Following right-to-work legislation, which may be enacted in certain states, trade union-led construction projects must negotiate on behalf of, and represent, non-union workers without them having to pay dues. This is as opposed to a closed shop, where union membership is a requirement for employment on a construction project.
Open shops have grown in scale and prevalence, but initially they were set up in direct opposition to union shops and so were sometimes less expensive and less skilled. Over the years, competition has brought open shops into much closer alignment with unions to the point where the difference is considered to be minimal. Project labor agreements (PLAs) have narrowed the wage discrepancies between open and union shops, since contractors have less incentive to negotiate with unions where there is the option of less expensive non-affiliated labour.
While open shops enable a worker to choose between participating in a union or not, unions argue that they have inadequate influence on and ability to protect the rights of workers, e.g. on health and safety, working conditions, wages, and so on.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Business model.
- Construction organisations and strategy.
- Exploring the impact of the ageing population on the workforce and built environment.
- Joint venture.
- Limited company.
- Project labor agreement (PLA).
- Relationship management in construction.
- Right-to-work legislation and construction.
- Special purpose vehicles.
- Tackling the construction skills shortage.
- Umbrella companies.
Featured articles and news
What benefits does BIM bring to construction projects?
New Wiki site is set to make BIM mainstream.
And the award winners for 2019 are...
Articles of agreement
Guidance for local authorities and consultancies setting planning conditions.
A real deal – at last?
How does anastylosis help in the reconstructing of ancient monuments?
More than just aesthetic and historic values and meanings.
An exciting and novel collaboration between the RIBA and the SPAB.
Republic of Ireland updates to planning and development.
The different types of pile foundation.
Achieving a net-zero carbon UK by 2050.