New Jersey’s Next Governor Says NO to Project Labor Agreements

1 November 5, 2009  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

Republican Chris Christie defeated incumbent Jon Corzine on Tuesday to become New Jersey’s next governor.

According to the Washington Post,

Christie, a former U.S. attorney who also made fighting corruption in state politics a theme of his campaign, finished with 48.8 percent of the vote to Corzine’s 44.6, a margin of almost 100,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reported. It was a powerful Republican victory in a state that President Obama carried a year ago by 15 points, and where Christie was outspent by perhaps 3 to 1.

The challenger rode a wave of voter outrage over taxes — among the highest in the nation — and the recession.

Governor-elect Christie’s win also stands to change New Jersey’s support of government mandated project labor agreements (PLAs), an issue linked closely to corruption in state politics, voter outrage over high property taxes, government waste and bad job-killing public policy that harms small businesses.

On the Christie Campaign website,, item number fifty on 88 Ways Chris Christie Will Fix New Jersey highlights Governor-elect Christie’s pledge to eliminate discriminatory and costly PLAs in New Jersey.


I will eliminate special interest labor union giveaways that increase spending and taxes by ending the use of project labor agreements, which drive up the cost of public construction projects and fail to deliver a public benefit at a time when the economy is shedding jobs and taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet.

Gregg M. Edwards, president of the Center of Policy Research of New Jersey, makes a convincing argument that the Corzine Administration lacked fiscal discipline when it mandated these backroom deals on taxpayer funded construction (“Jersey’s Deal with Unions Steals from the Stimulus,” 2/17/09).

By simply ordering the School Development Authority (the SCC’s successor) to end its use of the PLA [mandate], Corzine could build more schools with the $2.9 billion the Legislature and he approved last year. Without spending one more dime, he can modernize more schools and put more people to work designing and building schools. 

Update: An astute reader sent us this link, which documents Governor Corzine thanking Big Labor in his concession speech. Update: View 1:44 and 4:30 of this video to hear these remarks.

As you will see from the list of related events below, Corzine-style special interest politics have dictated public policy related to government-mandated PLAs in the Garden State for almost two decades.

The Christie Administration has a chance to break the cycle of corruption and level the playing field in public contracting to allow both union and nonunion contractors to compete fairly for New Jersey’s public construction contracts without discriminatory and costly PLAs. agrees with Governor-elect Christie that it is good public policy to allow nonunion employees – 77.2% of New Jersey’s private construction workforce do not belong to construction labor union –  to have a chance to work on publicly funded construction projects paid for by their tax dollars without being forced to pay union dues and/or forfeiting contributions into health and retirement plans unless they join a union.

New Jersey’s Love Affair with PLAs:

  • Governor Florio signed Executive Order No. 99 (9/13/93)
  • Governor Whitman signed Executive Order No. 11 (3/24/94)
  • Governor McGreevey (D) signed Executive Order No. 1 (01/18/02) (The first executive order signed by McGreevey – mmm, smell the corruption)
  • Governor McGreevey signed A. 1926 (6/30/02) authorizing the use of PLAs on all major public works projects into New Jersey law.  See NJ code here and here
  • New Jersey Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act signed into law (07/18/00)
  • New Jersey Schools Construciton Corporation (NJSCC) created to oversee NJ school construction program (08/26/02). Implements PLAs on NJ school districts relying on state aid and all Abbot School construction and renovation.
  • Created in 2007, the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, took over duties from the NJSCC and is continuing their wasteful policy of using PLAs.

It is important for Governor-elect Christie to issue an executive order promoting fair and open competition – free from discriminatory and costly government-mandated PLAs – and help pass a law to overturn A. 1926.

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