New Jersey Governor Vetoes Bill to Expand Public Labor Agreements

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would have expanded the definition of projects requiring greater use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for New Jersey’s public works. Governor Christie cited the detrimental effect the bill (S2425) could have on the continued Hurricane Sandy repair efforts in issuing his absolute veto.

In New Jersey, PLAs are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements applying to specific public works projects that force non-union companies to become signatories. PLAs are used on a wide range of construction, reconstruction, demolition, and renovation projects. The bill would have broadened the definition of “public works projects” from just buildings to include highways, bridges, pumping stations, and water and sewage treatment plants. These types of structures suffered damage in 2012 from Hurricane Sandy and the bill would have provided for the use of PLAs in their repair and rebuilding projects.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, had said using PLAs would create more jobs for New Jersey residents. However, in vetoing the bill, Governor Christie stated that the bill “would significantly alter public contracting in this State at a time when the swift reconstruction, rebuilding, and redevelopment of public infrastructure is a priority.”

S2425 passed New Jersey’s Senate in January 2013 and the General Assembly the following month. Sweeney has not indicated whether he plans to reintroduce the bill in an altered form.