If you are involved in the construction industry in New Jersey, you may have heard about project labor agreements (PLAs). These agreements, also known as community workforce agreements, are contracts between labor unions and employers that govern the terms and conditions of employment on a specific construction project.
Proponents of PLAs argue that they can help ensure that construction projects are completed on time, within budget, and to a high standard of quality. They believe that by hiring union workers, who have been trained and certified in their trades, projects are less likely to suffer from delays or accidents. Additionally, PLAs can help ensure that local workers and minority and women-owned businesses have the opportunity to participate in large-scale construction projects.
However, opponents of PLAs argue that they can be costly and limit competition for construction contracts. They argue that PLAs exclude non-union workers and businesses from bidding on projects, which can drive up costs for taxpayers and limit opportunities for small and minority-owned businesses.
New Jersey has a history of using PLAs for public construction projects, such as schools and transportation infrastructure. In fact, the state passed a law in 2002 that encouraged the use of PLAs on public construction projects. However, the use of PLAs has been controversial in New Jersey and has been challenged in court by opponents.
In 2019, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would require PLAs on all projects funded by the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund. Supporters of the bill argued that it would help create jobs and ensure that construction projects were completed on time and within budget. However, opponents of the bill argued that it would limit competition and drive up costs for taxpayers.
Ultimately, the bill was vetoed by Governor Phil Murphy, who cited concerns about the potential costs of PLAs. However, the debate over the use of PLAs in New Jersey is likely to continue, as both proponents and opponents continue to push their agendas.
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