When Hurricane Sandy stuck New Jersey, there were reports of volunteers crews being turned away because they were not members of a union. The reports were initially denied but later confirmed to be true. There is no denying, however, that New Jersey is now formalizing that policy. A bill that was authored by an Ironworkers’ union organizer to expand union-only Project Labor Agreements to include Hurricane Sandy cleanup and reconstruction passed the New Jersey Senate along party lines 23-13. As it turns out, the bill actually expands this sort of discrimination currently in place. New Jersey has had a project labor agreement law on the books since 2002, but highways, bridges, pumping stations and water and sewage treatment plants were exempted. With extensive rebuilding needed on those structures along the shore, this bill includes them.
Union bosses are profiting from the disaster by ensuring only union members can work on reconstruction in the state. Hopefully Gov. Chris Christie will stand up to this intimidation.