Labor leaders quiet on PLA veto

Labor leaders today remained mum on the governor’s veto of a bill that would have allowed governing bodies to require union labor on certain public works projects.

It’s not known how the governor’s action will affect his quest for trade union support in the upcoming gubernatorial election, but the silence from the major trade unions suggests any outrage was tempered.

Greg Lalavee, Business Manager for the Operating Engineers Local 825, which endorsed Christie last week, said the veto had no effect on his support for Christie.

“We had an idea of where the governor was going to be on that particular bill but for a whole bunch of reasons, we took a neutral position as it went through the Legislature anyway.”

James Kehoe, who represents the Plumbers and Pipefitters union, which endorsed Christie earlier this year, did not return several calls for comment.  Bill Mullen, President of the New Jersey Building and Trades Council, was out of the office and could not be reached for comment.

Other labor leaders, including representatives from the Ironworkers, Electricians and Painters Unions, did not return calls for comment.

Christie has already been endorsed by three of the state’s 15 trade unions and others are reportedly ready to follow suit, giving the governor unprecedented support from a traditionally staunch part of the Democratic base.

While the leaders of the respective unions did not return calls for comment, members of organized labor in the Legislature were not afraid to take aim at the governor.

State Sen. Donald Norcross, a member of the electrical workers union and president of the Southern New Jersey Labor Council, said the veto will continue to result in jobs sent out of state.

“Quite simply, this was a pro-worker, pro-New Jersey bill that sought to improve job prospects for our residents. It was intended to put New Jersey workers first as we begin rebuilding from the unprecedented devastation caused by Sandy. The action taken by the governor on this legislation undermines that effort. Unfortunately, his veto means that more jobs will go to out-of-state workers, which we simply cannot afford.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney, a member of the Ironworkers union, said in a statement that the governor seems fine with allowing the clean-up from Super Storm Sandy to be completed by out-of-state workers.

“It simply lacks sense to not try and have as many people as possible from this state employed in rebuilding it,” he said.  “Instead, while companies like AshBritt continue to reap the benefits of the storm, middle class families in New Jersey will continue to reap the burden.”

Labor leaders quiet on PLA veto