Is this NJ town hurting small businesses? (Opinion)
I'm a pro-union guy. My family has a history of union workers going back to the shipyards in Philadelphia. But when it comes to competition, it's critical to have as many competent companies as possible able to offer bids on work.
This is especially true when it comes to public projects.
Anti-competition politicians like NJ Congressman Chris Smith characterize the "lowest bidder" as a company lacking in competence as if over-spending on public projects somehow guarantees better work. Simply not true.
The rules and regulations on public projects in New Jersey undoubtedly go far beyond many other states as we remain the most regulated and taxed state in the nation. The DOL already has rules in place guaranteeing a prevailing wage regardless of union status.
That said when local politicians act as if the difference between non-union and union work is an issue of production, results, and safety, they're not being entirely honest.
In Parsippany-Troy Hills, the Republican mayor and council are pushing a mandate for all public works projects over $5 million requiring them to fall under "Project Labor Agreements".
The challenge is that according to the Department of Labor, PLA projects cost as much as 33% more and lead to significant delays, as explained by my Tuesday morning guest.
We were joined by Samantha DeAlmeida who is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors in New Jersey.
Here are some significant points she raised regarding why she and the organization oppose mandates like the one being pushed in Parsippany.
When I asked about the money, Samantha quickly reported that according to public reports, the politicians in question have received many contributions from the unions who would benefit. Of course, that doesn't on the surface make it corrupt, but it raises important questions.
Here's a recap of her points from the conversation:
The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Mayor and Council (all Republicans) have recently introduced an ordinance to mandate project labor agreements be used on ALL public works projects over $5 million in town.
Over 73% of New Jersey’s private construction workforce does not belong to a union. That’s why it makes little sense to continue to discourage quality open shop contractors from bidding on public works projects due to anti-competitive project labor agreements at the expense of state taxpayers.
The N.J. Department of Labor in its most recent study found that the use of PLA’s on construction projects increased the cost of construction by a staggering 33%, and led to significant delays in the completion of projects.
If enacted, the Ordinance will hurt merit shop contractors and their employees who live in Parsippany, raise their families, pay taxes, and invest in the community. - Samantha DeAlmeida, Associated Builders and Contractors, NJ
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.