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Sweeney, Greenstein Bill to Promote Workforce Diversity Advances

Trenton – In an effort to ensure workplaces are diverse and inclusive, the Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Linda Greenstein which would promote workforce diversity in publicly funded construction by permitting more project labor agreements.

“A project labor agreement is a contract a public entity enters with one or multiple labor organizations to complete a public works project,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Under current law, public works projects are defined as projects done on buildings, which does not include pumping stations or water and sewage treatment plants. By removing these exemptions, we can allow for more opportunities for public works projects to enter into project labor agreements, helping to create a more diverse and inclusive industry.”

The bill, S-3414, would promote workforce diversity in public works projects that include a project labor agreement, by permitting provisions to provide outreach and training programs for minority groups, members of disadvantaged communities and women. Their programs may include hiring, training, and employment of these groups.

“The traditional construction site has been, and continues to be, a difficult working environment for women and people of color,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “In 2019, 23.6 percent active apprentices in federally registered programs identified as Hispanic, with an additional 10.5 percent identifying as Black, and with a total of 9.1 percent identifying as female. It is evident that a clear disparity exists and this legislation is crucial in order to ensure there is diversity and inclusion in this industry.”

Under the bill, public entities would be allowed to enter project labor agreements for any public works project that is subject to the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act and that will cost $5 million or more.

The bill would take effect immediately upon enactment.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 29-6.