After intense criticism from members of the Jersey City NAACP, as well as intense debate among the city Council, the governing body approved a new Project Labor Agreements that requires at least 20 percent of the project workforce to include local women and minorities.
Prior to the discussion, Ward B Councilman Chris Gadsden made a motion to table the measure, which was seconded by Ward D Councilman Michael Yun, but the motion failed 2-6(1), with Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano abstaining.
As was the case at last month’s meeting, various members of the local branch of the NAACP spoke out against the ordinance, including Rev. Nathaniel Legay, the chapter president, and Rev. Gloria Walton.
“If you do not increase the amount of [sic] 23 percent that we are asking for, I would prefer, and I would ask you to vote no on this ordinance,” exclaimed Legay.
“Maybe you could set up a future for your children, for those that live in … Ward F: they haven’t even been given the opportunity. And so I suggest that there be some enforcement … enough of your political rhetoric, I’m sick of it. No, let me call it what it is: it’s lies,” stated Walton.
Another member of the Jersey City NAACP, Barbara Camacho, a lawyer by trade, spent nearly a half hour in front of the council imploring them to vote against the current measure – also demanding answers from Corporation Counsel Jeremy Farrell.
“You’re going to see more minorities at work in non-union scenarios: that’s why PLAs are so important … if we use the PLA properly, and we put the hard targets, that’s how we’re going to get minorities and women into the union jobs,” Farrell said.
“Hard targets is in the structure of the PLA. That hard target that’s what we’re debating on: whether it’s 20 percent or 23 percent,” Ferrell added, drawing protest from Camacho.
” … Right now, I don’t have the exact stats in front of me, but last [time] I looked at the manning reports, we were hitting five percent, four percent of the money. If a lot was going on, sometimes we would get to 20 percent. Sometimes we would get seven percent.”
Of course not everyone was against the ordinance, such as Chris Cupo of Laborers, Local 3 and Pat Kelleher, the president of the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council.
“The key, what is very important here today, we have developed person CGs putting money into the project, down on [Route] 440, then the other that’s supposed to be open off of 665, training the men and women into the programs, giving them money to pay for their drug tests, their interview – which the trades that are here today go down and follow up,” Kelleher detailed.
Despite the concerns raised after around two hours, the majority of the council believed that it was better to get the PLA approved sooner than later, especially after Farrell said it would likely be at least a three-month delay if the ordinance was voted down today.
The measure passed by a vote of 6-3, with Gadsden, Yun and Ward E Councilwoman Candice Osborne voting no.
Gadsden indicated on last week’s edition of Hudson County Review Live that he was unhappy with the development and current state of the PLA, though also said he anticipated the ordinance would be approved by a vote of 6-3.
The entire council vote, which took nearly an hour and was streamed on our Facebook page, can be viewed below.