Home>Governor>Building trades president slams Murphy’s veto of non-profit loan program bill

Gov. Phil Murphy, left, and New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council President Bill Mullen. (Photo: Edwin Torres/Office of the Governor).

Building trades president slams Murphy’s veto of non-profit loan program bill

Bill Mullen says governor is first in 60 years to disaparage prevailing wage law

By David Wildstein, February 17 2023 10:05 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to veto legislation establishing a loan program to help nonprofit groups finance construction projects has put the pro-labor governor into a fight with the head of the state building trades union.

New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council President Bill Mullen accused Murphy of setting the state’s wage rate laws back to the 1960s after he rejected a passed in December with the support of Democratic legislative leaders.

“Each project seeking a loan guarantee under the program would also need to win approval by the EDA Board,” Mullen said in a letter to union leaders.  “Since the bill would provide loan guarantees for construction projects, program participants would be subject to laws which require that all workers employed in the performance of a construction project, undertaken in connection with EDA financial assistance, be paid the prevailing wage rate.”

Murphy supports additional funding for new facilities built by non-profits, but he said the proposal passed  by the legislature was “unworkable in its current form.”

Instead, Murphy wants the bill to demonstrate a sensible plan to repay the loan, which would come through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

In his veto message, Murphy voiced concern that workers on projects financed by the loan program would be pricey because they would be subject to the prevailing wage rate.

That appears to be what set Mullen off.

“Prevailing Wage and the Expansion Acts were hard-fought battles. As far back as I can recall, (the) prevailing wage was not disparaged by any of our New Jersey Governors, not even the Republican Governors going back to (William) Cahill,” said Mullen.  “To have our current Governor Murphy, almost 60 years later, use a fair living wage – ‘prevailing wage’ in (an) attempt to justify a legislative veto is disparaging, misleading and reckless at best.”

Mullen told building trades union leaders that “we cannot let our guard down.”

“We must protect our members at all times,” he said.

The attack by Mullen comes 19 months after the New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council endorsed Murphy for re-election.  At the time, Mullen called Murphy “a strong advocate for the building trades” and praised his efforts to create building trades jobs and enforce the state’s labor laws.

During his first term, Murphy fought the practice of misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees, denying them wages and benefits.

The New Jersey AFL-CIO also endorsed the governor.

Last fall, the umbrella group for 15 building trades unions approved a resolution urging former Senate President Steve Sweeney, a frequent Murphy critic, to seek the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2025.

A spokesperson for Murphy declined to comment on Mullen’s letter.

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