A805/S-972 (Verrelli / Madden / Sweeney)
The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ) would like to voice our opposition to A805/S-972 (Verrelli / Madden / Sweeney), which would require the use of union labor during certain circumstances at New Jersey-based refineries.
Based on California’s SB54, which went into effect in 2014, the intent of A805/S-972 (Verrelli / Madden / Sweeney) is to mandate that contractors and subcontractors performing certain work at refineries be from an apprenticeable occupation in the building and construction trades. However, if passed, this legislation would tie the hands of refineries from hiring individuals at their own discretion depending on the type of work being conducted or the required turnaround time of a job, decreasing productivity and increasing expense.
Many refineries use a combination on unionized and non-unionized labor – but, there is a fair and reasonable business reason why this decision is made. Refinery turnarounds, otherwise known as TARs, are scheduled events when an entire unit of is taken offstream for an extended period due to a maintenance or renewal. These events are high pressure and costly, but necessary and must be done by the most capable workers possible. Unfortunately, from time to time that means using non-union labor that are specialists in certain fields. More importantly, the hired workers should be familiar with the specific units that are offline – specifically, their design and the chemistry involved in each unit. Removing the refineries ability to hire the best possible workers that are familiar with the units in question will create a tremendous blow to the productivity of the TAR, as well as add cost to already expensive work.
Equally problematic is A805/S-972 (Verrelli / Madden / Sweeney)’s intent to require private entities to pay New Jersey’s prevailing wage rate. Current law states that prevailing wage only applies to those who perform work on any state or political subdivision construction contract. This requirement would be precedent setting and a departure from the California law, which only requires prevailing wage on those jobs for which there are apprenticeships.
Lastly, the CCSNJ respectfully requests a consideration for specialty work at the refineries. The California law allows for an exemption if the work is deemed sufficiently unique and understanding the highrisk environment of a refinery, any variety of issues could arise that would be considerable abnormal, but not necessarily an “emergency.” Allowing similar language to what is in the California law would allow refineries to have an offramp should an uncommon situation arise at the plant.
As always, the CCSNJ opposes any employer mandate that removes the ability for a business to make the best overall business decision for their company – and, unfortunately A805/S-972 (Verrelli / Madden / Sweeney) does just that in a high-risk industry where a certain amount of flexibility is needed. For this reason, we respectfully ask you to oppose, A805/S-972 (Verrelli / Madden / Sweeney)