Bill would eliminate contractors from public works merit workshop

TRENTON, NJ – DECEMBER 15, 2021: In a lame session of the legislature, the New Jersey Senate and Assembly are trying to pass legislation that would completely upend the state’s apprenticeship training programs. Supporters say it will strengthen provisions of the “Public Works Contractors Registration Act” and require certification of compliance with federal requirements for apprenticeship programs. But what it really does is penalize New Jersey merit workshop contractors who do public works.

Currently, construction apprenticeship programs in New Jersey are registered and supervised by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL). Just days before Thanksgiving, outgoing Senate Speaker Steve Sweeney and his Assembly allies proposed Senate Bill 4207 and Assembly Bill 6119, which, if passed, would increase the registration fees, increase fines, add criminal penalties for violations of the law, and authorize the NJ’s Department of Labor (NJDOL) to override federal apprenticeship rules. The penalties include fines of up to $ 25,000, a ban on bidding for government contracts, and even possible jail time.

“A law was passed in New Jersey in 2019 that requires workers subject to the ‘Construction Contractors Registration Act’ to have completed or actively participate in a registered apprenticeship program; an apprenticeship program that is registered and approved by the United States Department of Labor and provides the trainee with combined classroom and on-the-job training in a profession recognized as a trade that meets program standards for enrollment and graduation under the Code of Federal Regulations. By law, all contractors who signed a collective agreement for all trades employed are compliant. Therefore, a union entrepreneur would never be required to employ an apprentice, but complied with the law by contributing to the union’s apprenticeship training and education program through their dues. When the law was passed, Associated Builders and Contractors New Jersey (ABC-NJ) and other contractors at the Merit Shop called on NJDOL for a level playing field and called for regulations to be enacted to ensure the same compliance. on the side of the merit workshop. Those who cannot employ an apprentice can comply with the law by contributing to an ERISA trust fund for the training and education of apprentices. The trust fund is highly regulated and the funds can only be used to train and recruit apprentices in the labor market and support the training and education program, ”said Samantha DeAlmeida, President of ABC-NJ. “ABC-NJ has worked closely with USDOL over the past three years to create a registered apprenticeship program that currently meets their standards in 12 trades. These bills are clearly intended to further exclude contractors from merit stores, tenders in public works contracts by giving the state unprecedented oversight and enforcement powers over registered apprenticeship programs. by USDOL.

“The bill is a direct attack on the merit shop construction industry and our ABC-NJ apprenticeship training program. It seeks to level the playing field and give unequal advantages to union entrepreneurs, ”DeAlmeida continued. “This legislation also seeks to impose draconian criminal penalties and heavy fines for what, in many cases, are just honest clerical and accounting errors. Mistakes happen to both union entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the merit workshop. This legislation will also raise taxes for New Jersey families by increasing the cost of all public works projects by excluding competition from cheaper contractors.

Merit workshop contractors make up over 78% of the construction workforce in New Jersey, and 98% of African-American and Hispanic construction companies are non-union. Diversity was brought to the fore at the Assembly Labor Committee meeting on December 13, as committee members applauded in their closing statements to testimonies from many who “portrayed” the legislation as anti-diversity, anti-veterans and a family business doomsday. The African-American Chamber of Commerce strongly opposed this bill for its exclusionary effects.

“The truth is that this legislation is by no means ‘painted’, rather it is a fact that this legislation will have a direct and negative impact on minority businesses and their workforce,” said John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President and CEO of the New Jersey African American Chamber of Commerce. “My team and I are no puppets, and we are talking about legislation that impacts our members and the Black community in New Jersey. Construction unions have a long history of failing to help develop the workforce in minority communities. “

“The apprenticeship training program in the ABC-NJ merit workshop has been an example of inclusiveness and has seen tremendous growth even throughout the pandemic,” Harmon continued. “The aim of our organization is to advocate for the development of minorities and small businesses, job retention and the creation of programs, and to support entrepreneurship and free enterprise. This legislation is a direct attack on our vision and the goals we stand for on behalf of our members.

About the builders and associated contractors: ABC is a national association representing 21,000 merit workshop construction companies and construction-related businesses in 69 chapters across the United States. Our members represent all specialties of the construction industry in the United States and are primarily made up of companies that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors of the industry. ABC NJ is the industry’s liaison with federal, state and local governments and the general public. For more information, please visit our website at

About the New Jersey African American Chamber of Commerce: Founded in 2007, the New Jersey African American Chamber of Commerce (AACCNJ) is a 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to the economic empowerment and support of African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalist activities in the state of New Jersey and through interaction. with the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. The AACCNJ serves over 800 members and has over 10,000 contacts in its database. Among its many goals, AACCNJ seeks to enhance its ability to be a vital source of information, inspiration, knowledge and resources for the more than 80,000 African American businesses and more than 1.2 million black residents of New Jersey. The AACCNJ joins the top three percent of all chambers nationwide that are accredited by the United States Chamber of Commerce. The AACCNJ is the only accredited chamber in New Jersey and the only African-American chamber in the United States to hold this distinction. The reach of the AACCNJ extends statewide and nationwide through radio, television and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram). His weekly radio show, Empowerment hour, has more than 2000 listeners. His monthly TV show, Path to success, broadcast on NJTV and, attracting 1.6 million viewers, and on, attracting an audience of over 28 million viewers. For more information, please visit

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