New Jersey Governor Vetoes Measure To Expand Use of PLAs on State Projects
By Lorraine McCarthy
PHILADELPHIA–New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) April 15 vetoed legislation (S. 2425) that would have authorized state and local governments to use project labor agreements (PLAs) for construction projects involving highways, bridges, pumping stations, and water and sewage treatment plants.
A 2002 state law (P.L. 2002, Ch. 44) restricts the use of PLAs for taxpayer-funded projects to initiatives involving construction, reconstruction, demolition, or renovation of public buildings in New Jersey.
The legislation would have maintained the requirements that projects must be worth at least $5 million and be subject to prevailing wage laws to be eligible for a project labor agreement.
In his veto message, Christie said he was compelled to reject the measure because it “would significantly alter public contracting in this state at a time when the swift reconstruction, rebuilding, and redevelopment of public infrastructure is a priority’’ in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The bill was promoted by organized labor as a way to ensure that New Jersey residents are being employed in the post-hurricane rebuilding effort, for which most major public contracts have gone to out-of-state companies. The bill’s four prime sponsors all hold leadership positions in building trades unions.
Organized Labor Dismayed
“The governor’s veto is disappointing because it would have meant work for thousands of New Jersey residents,’’ Senate President Steve Sweeney (D), one of the bill’s sponsors and a general organizer for the International Association of Ironworkers, said in a statement.
“At a time when the unemployment rate in New Jersey is among the highest in the country, this was really a common sense measure that would have created jobs right here,’’ Sweeney said. “This administration continues to see no problem with the recovery effort being led by out-of-state companies employing people not from New Jersey.’’
The Associated Builders and Contractors lobbied against the bill, saying it would effectively prevent nonunion contractors from competing effectively for Hurricane Sandy reconstruction projects because contracts awarded under PLAs invariably go to unionized firms.
The legislation was approved along party lines by votes of 23-13 in the Senate Jan. 14 and 47-26 in the Assembly Feb. 14.
By Lorraine McCarthy
Text of the governor’s veto message is available at http://about.bloomberglaw.com/blaw2/files/2013/04/S-2425-AV.pdf. More information about S. 2425 is available athttp://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=S2425.