I am a supporter of trade unions. Teamsters and heavy equipment operators and others serve an important purpose to create a balance between management and workers when it comes to critical businesses and projects.

When it comes to cops and firefighters, I'm also a supporter of public unions.

That said, the governor and senate president in NJ have gone beyond supporting unions and are actively damaging companies, hurting taxpayers and threatening the future of NJ charities.

The state government pushed through a new law that allows striking workers the ability to collect unemployment. With the Federal Government Cares Act, they are also empowered to have their cobra health benefits.

The obvious challenge here is that by subsidizing striking workers, the incentive to return to the bargaining table is gone. This is an obvious roadblock to companies trying to do the right thing by their employees and in long term could cost the strikers their employment.

It gets worse. Sweeney and Murphy have conspired to bully charities into going union or face losing state funding.

According to John Crimi, from County Concrete, a teamster company, the government is verbally threatened charities to join the "Harmony Labor Agreement" or face the loss of funding. Many are charities that are just making ends meet helping abused and addicted mothers and children.

Given that only 17% of the state workers are unionized, it makes zero sense unless the governor and senate president are simply playing politics and trying to satisfy special interest elites instead of actually helping workers. Hmm.

Beyond the bullying and heavy-handed, anti-business tactics, NJ suffers from what is known as Project Labor Agreements.

The stated intention is to raise wages and empower workers. The reality is that taxpayers and non-union workers who make up 83% of the NJ workforce, especially the 98% minority-owned contractor businesses who are not union shops, are being crushed by the PLA policy. The policy prevents non-union companies from even bidding on public contracts. With striking workers being incentivized to stay home and most businesses not allowed to compete for jobs, the cost of NJ public construction is through the roof.

Crimi added that the cost to taxpayers is at least 30% higher than it should be. He used the Toms River school construction project as a prime example. The project without the PLA minimums would cost just over $15 million whereas the cost spikes to more than $20 million with the state pushed PLAs, he says.

NJ needs a governor who will open up public projects to all companies in New Jersey. The fact that 98% of minority-owned construction businesses are non-union seems an obvious and easy reason to open up the bidding process. Unions are important to stand up for workers in the negotiation process. When government tips the scales and prevents the negotiation from taking place, everyone loses.

NJ needs a governor who recognizes that the criteria for bidding on a public project, specifically infrastructure, would not be the "status" of a particular company but the benchmarks and performance goals set by the engineers and customer expectations, namely the taxpayers who are paying the bills.

NJ needs a governor who will allow charities helping those most in need to operate without the onerous and unfair burden of the completely unnecessary and potentially harmful Harmony Labor Agreements.

NJ needs a governor who is not afraid to educate and lead instead of pander to special interests in order to keep the job.

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.

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