In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey Senate has only passed one bill associated with rebuilding storm-damaged public infrastructure. Sadly, if passed, the bill would only inflate the cost of recovery efforts and future public works.
New Jersey Senate Bill 2425 would grant unions a monopoly on all Sandy reconstruction. It would do so by expanding the reach of what are known as project labor agreements (PLAs), which mandate firms hire union labor and agree to their work rules on all government construction projects. Unfortunately, PLAs have been shown to increase government construction costs to taxpayers and discriminate against non-union construction workers, who represent 86.7 percent of the trade nationally. Higher costs from PLAs lead to less construction, which is the last thing Sandy victims need to recover from the destruction.
PLAs create an uncompetitive bidding process in favor of unions, which invariably amounts to pure political payback from union-biased elected officials. It should be no surprise that SB 2425 sponsor Senator Steve Sweeney, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, received tens of thousands in campaign contributions from numerous construction unions in recent elections. Moreover, in Sweeney’s time away from public service, he moonlights as is an ironworker union organizer for which he is rewarded with over $50,000 annually for his services.