TRENTON –Lawmakers cleared legislation from the floor of the General Assembly Thursday that would expand the scope of project labor agreements to include more public works projects.
The bill, A3679/S2425, expands the application of project labor agreements to include road, bridge and other project contracts. The legislation cleared the Assembly floor following a 47-26 vote with three abstentions.
The bill cleared the Assembly following no debate.
The proposal was fast-tracked through the Legislature by Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), who sponsored the legislation in the upper chamber.
The bill would amend the state statute dealing with authorizing project labor agreements to allow additional labor agreements with the state. It 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.
Sources opposing the bill said previously that Sweeney wanted to punish Ray Pocino and the Laborers in response to their endorsement late last year of incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie. But others praised Sweeney for going on offense with a political maneuver that could put Christie in a labor rundown.
In a statement issued after the vote today, Sweeney said that “More and more towns are beginning the construction phase of the Sandy recovery process, which means we need to act as quickly as possible so that these jobs can go to people in New Jersey. New Jersey’s unemployment rate remains well above the national average and largely unchanged in three years. That means our middle class continues to struggle in a state with a high cost of living. That is why I want to ensure that it is New Jerseyans who are going to be put to work rebuilding the state.”