TRENTON – The Senate convened a brief session Monday to pass a bill that proponents say would expand the scope of public labor agreements to include more public works projects.
Democratic lawmakers hailed legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney as a post-Sandy recovery bill that will “help New Jersey workers,” said Sen. Donald Norcross, (D-5), who citied the state’s “unprecedented” unemployment.
The bill, S2425, would amend the statute dealing with authorizing project labor agreements to allow additional labor agreements with the state.
It cleared the Senate along party lines following a 23-13 vote.
The proposal expands the definition of “public works project,” which pertains now to “construction, reconstruction, demolition or renovation” projects.
The proposal effectively allows the option for municipalities to enter into such labor agreements for a number of projects, including construction on highways, bridges, pumping stations, water treatment plants and other public facilities.
However, Republicans argued on the Senate floor “there is no question” that the proposal “will cost the taxpayers of New Jersey more money,” said Sen. Tom Kean Jr., (R-21).
Kean’s comments were echoed by his Republican colleagues.
“It’s amazing to me that a bill like this in this climate could be brought to the floor,” exclaimed Sen. Gerald Cardinale, (R-39), who argued the bill is only helping a small portion of the state’s workforce.
“If you tilt the playing field in favor of one group you tilt it against the other,” he said. “The tilt is in favor of that 15 percent.”