- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 05 Feb 2021
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
The contentious nature of claims associated with cladding, fire safety and EWS1 forms.
ECA comments on low-carbon heating systems initiative and Heat and Buildings Strategy.
Cinders and other forms of domestic rubbish created filth but also generated great wealth.
CIC 2050 Group requests input to find out priorities for future industry leaders.
IHBC publishes response to consultation.
Institute applauds funding initiatives but presses for additional retrofit and tax measures.
The switch from analogue to digital has begun.
The fourth industrial revolution is well underway.
Free online resource will offer guidance on conserving places and the planet during COP26.