Home>Campaigns>Operating Engineers drop out of building trades group, questions whether Mullen should be replaced

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 Business Manager Greg Lalevee at the Groundbreaking for the New Portal North Bridge, August 1, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Operating Engineers drop out of building trades group, questions whether Mullen should be replaced

Local 825 leader angered over Building & Construction Trades Council working against their business agent, a GOP State Senate candidate

By David Wildstein, April 18 2023 1:46 pm

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, one of the state’s most politically powerful labor unions, has withdrawn from the New Jersey Building & Construction Trades Council after the group’s president, Bill Mullen, played a role in bolstering the number of Democrats who automatically receive vote-by-mail ballots in South Jersey.

The gripe with Mullen is over the 8th district State Senate race, where Local 825 business agent Latham Tiver is the Republican candidate.   A non-profit run by Mullen is financing a grassroots campaign to help registered Democrats in the 8th automatically receive VBM ballots, something that would help Tiver’s opponent, Heather Cooper, pick up Democratic voters unlikely to vote in a low-turnout election year like 2023.

Now, Greg Lalevee, the Local 825 business manager, is questioning whether Mullen should be replaced.

“What is obvious is the state council leadership has clearly gone astray from its intended purpose –galactically off course, to put it mildly,” Lalevee said in an email to fifteen building trades leaders who serve as vice presidents of the statewide group.  “I would suggest that the vice presidents on this council claiming to support the house of labor look themselves in the mirror.  Ask yourselves, isn’t it time for a leadership change at the NJ Building Trades?”

Lalevee sent his email on Monday evening after a New Jersey  Globe story outlined Mullen’s VBM program, which is only being used in seven South Jersey counties.

Tiver, a former Burlington County freeholder, is the favorite to hold the 8th district Senate seat that opened up this year with the retirement of incumbent Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton).

According to Lalevee, a number of building trades unions are already supporting Tiver, “a sign that many recognize Latham’s value in the State Senate.”

“Those of us that know him understand his commitment to labor, the building trades, and his family and know those values will follow him in public service,” he said.

Lalevee wants to know why Mullen is seeking to “actively work against a third-generation Operating Engineer and business agent?”

“This question has racked my brain since the facts displayed in the above article were published,” Lalevee said.  “I recall a time not that long ago when banners flew high above our state conference’s stage celebrating the elected legislators of the building trades. “All We Do Is Build,” used to be the tagline.  Apparently, now that must be amended to include “All We Do Is Build… and then actively work against Operating Engineer candidates for public office.”

Lalevee left the door open for a reconciliation.

“When there is a change in leadership, my phone line will be open for a call from the council’s next president to ask the International Union of Operating Engineers to return,” he said.

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