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they could have thenm all in one schedule and use early start constraints to hold the start of the subcontracts to their respective start dates
I'm doubtful that P3 would allow differing data dates in each sub-project, once viewed as one master project. Have your Vendor try it and see if it's even feasible. Your vendor's position may be a self-correcting problem once he tries and fails to put differing data dates into one project.
Your data dates are really the date that your schedule is updated. My current contract ( for example ) requires schedule updates submitted on the 25th of each month. I imagine your vendor is going to be updating all of his sub-projects at the same time each billing cycle. Does this give you the contractual tool you need to insist on the same data date for each sub-project?
Each sub-project can have a different start date ( either as-builted, constrained, or otherwise) but the data date should always be the date of the update.