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NJ Republican Transcends Party, Votes In Favor of Salem County Project Labor Agreement Again

Salem County, New Jersey officials have approved a $5 million Project Labor Agreement (PLA) to build new county offices after a 5-2 vote late last week. It is the New Jersey County’s first PLA.

Originally passed in May by a 6–1 vote, the language of the PLA had to be reworked as New Jersey trade unions spent the summer reorganizing from 21 individual unions to 3 regional unions.

Despite opposition from two Republican freeholders who publicly argued the common Right-Wing talking points about PLAs costing taxpayers more, the measure passed. According to, freeholder Bruce Bobbitt said he doesn’t believe the claims that the PLA will cause cost overruns in the project.

“Whether you give the job to a union or non-union contractor there will be changes in the scope of the project that will add cost,” said Bobbitt. “We want to put Salem County first and this agreement does that.”

Freeholder Earl Gage argued that signing the PLA was the only way to guarantee that local workers be employed on the project:

“On the grand scale, if we went out for an open bid on a $5 million project there is nothing stopping a contractor from Baltimore or the Bronx from bidding on the job and submitting the low bid,” Gage said, adding in an open bid if a New York company is awarded the contract they will most likely bring their own workers to Salem.

“If we sign the PLA, the low bidder of the project, no matter if they are from New York or Maryland, they have to use our local labor unions. This guarantees the contractor will hire county union workers.”

Republican freeholder Dale Cross went against party lines to vote for the PLA partially based on the fact that it has “Helmet to Hardhats” provisions which give employers incentives to hire soldiers returning from war. PLAs have been a target of many far Right politicians who are out to destroy unions, not because they believe the agreements hurt workers but because they feel if they bust unions they can hurt Democratic fundraising before the 2012 election. Cross transcended party and did what he felt was best for his constituents and Salem’s workforce, he said:

“This will be a good opportunity for Salem County union workers to showcase their talents. The program offers our veterans an opportunity to join the construction trades as an apprentice,”


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