Will Chris Christie Fight to Stop Big Labor From Profiteering Off Hurricane Sandy?

Early last  November, an array of news outlets reported on allegations that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW/AFL-CIO) union bosses in New York and New Jersey had sought to reap a forced-union-dues windfall from Hurricane Sandy.  Whistleblowers charged that top bosses of IBEW locals in the Empire and Garden states had been refusing to allow out-of-state utility employees to help reconnect power for homes and businesses in the storm’s path unless the utilities agreed to deduct forced union membership dues from their paychecks.

After first besmirching the character of the whistleblowers, top IBEW chieftains in Washington, D.C., finally admitted on November 13 that their agents had in fact tried to profiteer off Sandy’s devastation.  And more than a week earlier, GOP Gov. Chris Christie, facing intense pressure from Right to Work advocates and their allies, had extracted a promise from New Jersey utilities not to turn away electrical workers for union nonaffiliation.

Unfortunately, the bad publicity the IBEW brass suffered last fall isn’t deterring Big Labor this year from directing its puppet politicians to steer federal and state tax money intended for Sandy relief into wasteful union-only schemes, as a Wall Street Journal editorial today points out.  The editorial is for subscribers only, but the vast majority of it is accessible on the Truth About Project Labor Agreements web site.

As the Journal editors explain,  Gov. Christie almost certainly can use his veto power at least to prevent New Jersey tax money from being used to furnish union bosses with a Sandy windfall in the form of union-only “project labor agreement” (PLA) deals for hurricane reconstruction projects.  But will the governor, who has recently been extending public olive branches to the union hierarchy, choose to stand up for independent-minded construction workers and taxpayers against union special interests this time?

With so much Sandy clean-up money on the line, New Jersey labor unions are . . . pushing to use PLAs for more state projects over $5 million. The Democratic-controlled state Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would expand the government’s ability to mandate PLAs for previously exempt public works and wastewater projects—exactly the kinds of work likely to come up as part of hurricane reconstruction. The state Senate passed it last month.

Mr. Christie has long criticized project labor agreements, which he said during his 2009 campaign were one of the main things he wanted to fix about New Jersey. He called them “special interest labor union giveaways that increase spending and taxes” while driving up the cost of public construction. Governor, how about a veto?

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Blasts Project Labor Agreement Schemes on New Jersey and Federally Funded