There are about a half dozen bills out there that would establish “prevailing wage” for contractors who receive government money.
One applies to BPU projects which cleared the Assembly labor Cmt. Monday, another involves food service at schools. Basically they impose a wage of roughly $15 an hour which is more than double the state’s minimum.
The bills are largely symbolic since they don’t apply to that much work, but what is interesting here ( like always ) is the politics. To begin with, opposition to this bill was relatively muted from some of the key organizations charged with protecting NJ’s business interests. The backdoor reason is that some of these prevailing wage bills, which are being pushed by the unions, are sponsored by incoming Senate President Stephen Sweeney. And as many insiders put it today, since the bills are gonna pass anyway, they don’t need to go on record vigorously opposing the new prez. At least not this early they don’t.
But I also spoke to a developer who said this issue is emblematic of the tone deafness of the Corzine Administration. They just don’t get it. They have made the business environment here so cost prohibitive that companies are either packing up and leaving or not coming here to begin with.
In fact, according to this developer states like Massachusetts and New York ( normally regarded as pro-union and quite liberal ) are actually better business environments. So when NJ passes a prevailing wage bill, while it may not do much, it just kinda sends the wrong message and winds up costing jobs.
Obviously unions and Democarts disagree…arguing that it’s an issue of fairness and a rising tide lifts all boats.
The other bill I’d like to mention is A4271. This legislation would tie the hands of the incoming Governor when it comes to US Senate appointments to vacant seats. Since New Jersey has two Democratic Senators, one of whom is 85, the new bill would force Christie ( a Republican ) to make an appointment within 30 days, and that appointment must be from the party of the Senator who is leaving the seat.
As Of course this is a hypothetical scenario. But as we know, Dems have a 60-seat filibuster proof majority in the US Senate and they are about pass a health care overhaul which is largely unpopular in the Republican party. Thus if something were to happen to either Menendez or Lautenberg, Christie would not be able to disrupt the current national balance.