Americans for Prosperity New Jersey Director Steve Lonegan appeared on Fox Business Channel’s Cavuto show Feb. 21 to discuss S2425, a measure opposed by the Wall Street Journal editorial board and covered by TheTruthAboutPLAs.com numerous times this year. It expands the use of anti-competitive and costly government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) on Hurricane Sandy reconstruction projects funded by New Jersey and federal taxpayer dollars.
S2425 awaits action on Gov. Christie’s desk after the New Jersey Assembly passed the measure (47-26-3) Feb. 14 and it sailed through the Senate Jan. 14 along party lines.
In 2009, Gov. Christie pledged to restrict government-mandated PLAs when he first ran for the governor’s chair and included it as Item No. 50 in his campaign plan, 88 Ways Chris Christie Will Fix 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.”
Taxpayers and the merit shop contracting community stand to lose with more government-mandated PLAs on state-funded Hurricane Sandy construction contracts. These special interest schemes increase costs, reduce competition and harm New Jersey’s qualified nonunion (and some union) contractors and skilled employees by imposing needless union collective bargaining agreements on firms as a condition of winning a taxpayer-funded contract to rebuild the Garden State’s roads, bridges and heavy infrastructure exempt from New Jersey’s current pro-PLA laws, which have been on the books since 2002.
Stakeholders are encouraged to write Gov. Christie on Twitter (@GovChristie) or call the governor’s office at 609-292-6000 and urge a veto S2425.
Before taking action, check out this video of the Cavuto segment:
A PhillyBurbs.com column by Phil Gianficaro explains why Gov. Christie should veto the bill (Will Christie deliver for Big Labor? 1/24/13):
…Never mind that 86 percent of the state’s workforce is nonunionized, and never mind that a 2010 New Jersey Labor Department study showed that PLA school construction costs increased by nearly 31 percent per square foot in 2008, and took an average of 22 more weeks than non-PLA projects.
And the bill’s author, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd of West Deptford, is also president of the Iron Workers District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity. If that doesn’t scream conflict of interest, what does?
So what we have here is a bill that excludes a great majority of the state’s workforce; increases costs; ends open, fair and competitive bidding; and extends completion times.
As good ideas go, this ranks right up there with hair-in-a-spray-can and the disco jumpsuit for men.
“This bill has so many unanswered questions that I couldn’t get answered that I didn’t vote on it,” said Sen. Diane Allen, R-7th of Edgewater Park. “My staff tried to find out who was right, but couldn’t.
“Sen. Sweeney claimed, and the bill does say, that nonunion folks won’t absolutely be unable to have these jobs. But the reality is that it’d be very difficult for them to have these jobs. As I recall from the bill, nonunion workers would have to go to a union hall and go from there, and that the union would be involved in the hiring. I don’t think nonunion folks should have to do that.”
Allen, who was joined in the no vote by Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, R-8th of Evesham, said she’d have voted for the bill had she been shown it would cost the taxpayers less money and guarantee projects would be completed faster than by nonunion workers.
“But it seemed to be the opposite, so I didn’t vote,” Allen said.
So we wait. If the bill passes in the Assembly and reaches Christie’s desk, does he dare sign it after posting Item No. 50 on his campaign pledge website? Does he dare risk alienating a great majority of constituents he’ll need for re-election next year? Might he attempt to amend the bill in an attempt to appease both sides? Perhaps he views the bill as a political maneuver by Sweeney, who may be attempting to draw union support away from the governor as he looks to be re-elected.
During his first campaign, the governor vowed to end project labor agreements. He won the election. He got to sit in the big chair. Now he may have a big decision to make.
Christie should view the bill like a disco jumpsuit.
And just say no.