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Non-union contractors are now persona non grata in Newark, NJ.
In a ceremony last week, Newark Mayor Cory Booker signed a project labor agreement guaranteeing union participation in some of the city's biggest construction projects.
After two years of negotiation over the ordinance, its passage on the city council and approval by the mayor represents a coup for the roughly two dozen trade unions that will have dibs on any tax-abated construction project worth $25 million or more and public works project over $5 million.
Because we all know that unions are always the lowest cost option when it comes to construction projects.
The little guy doesn't stand a chance when the unionistas are running the show.
Since 2010, the council has been trying to hash out a deal that guarantees any projects meeting the threshold would be required union jobs. But the council took a lot of heat from residents who felt the unions did not employ enough Newarkers.
With an unemployment rate nearly twice the national average, required union jobs would shut out workers who had not been admitted to the locals.
So what did the city do? They sold out the taxpayers and their own unemployed residents for the promise of some future job training.
But with some careful negotiation the unions are now guaranteeing a free training course for Newarkers in everything from how to wire a new building to how to go on an interview.
"This in essence gives them a leg up," said Essex County Building Trades President Marty Schwartz. "It's a positive thing for the city of Newark — for the residents of Newark. It just means that this is a door that's being opened."
The union only accepts about 20 applicants per class out of hundreds who will likely apply, so the program will not make a major dent in the city's 16 percent unemployment rate.
Twenty jobs! Wow, what a breakthrough. The residents of Newark must be ecstatic. That Cory Booker, he's the man. Meanwhile construction projects in Newark will probably cost anywhere from 12 to 18 percent more than if they were competitively bid. And of course the unions will use this payoff to generously donate to Booker's upcoming gubernatorial campaign.
It's all perfectly legal. And it stinks to high heaven.
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