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NJ Governor Christie Vetoes Expansion Of Project Labor Agreements

4/21/2013 | Construction Blog

Following the carnage left by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, the state legislature passed a bill allowing for the expansion of project labor agreements on construction projects using public money in the state. While they were already permissible by law, the new statute was seen as an attempt by labor unions to grab more of the market share and, as a result, the effort to rebuild New Jersey after the storm. In a veto message this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hinted that he saw it the same way.

Described simply, project labor agreements are project specific collective bargaining agreements made with one or more labor unions before work starts to establish specific terms and conditions for employment on the project. Those in favor of the legislation in New Jersey argued that the scope of work covered by PLAs was too small before the bill because it left out large swaths of infrastructure and highway work. Their goal was to allow the use of PLAs on a larger range than the already permitted projects of $5 million or more.

Many in the construction industry opposed this effort. They argued that the approach would exclude over 75% of the available construction work force in New Jersey and reduce competition for the work. In providing a written explanation of the veto, Governor Christie stated he thought it would negatively impact the reconstruction efforts by slowing the work. Although not stated, it also allowed him to fulfill a campaign promise that he would not support them.

The bill now returns to the New Jersey Senate, which is the chamber where it originated. The next move will be the legislature’s.