AACCNJ and ABC-NJ Respond to Study Showing State Contracting Excludes Minority and Women-Owned Businesses: NJ’s Project Labor Agreement Requirement Discriminates Against Minority Businesses

AACCNJ and ABC-NJ Respond to Study Showing State Contracting Excludes Minority and Women-Owned Businesses: NJ’s Project Labor Agreement Requirement Discriminates Against Minority Businesses


TRENTON — January 26, 2024. The Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey (ABC-NJ) and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) issued the following statement regarding a recent report by the Murphy Administration showing minority and women-owned businesses are greatly underrepresented in public works contracts:


Both organizations thank Governor Murphy and the Administration for releasing the forthright data in the Disparity Study. The Governor’s commitment to being a part of the solution to ensure that women and minority owned businesses receive equitable and fair opportunities in state procurement is a step forward to a fairer playing field for all. Together, we are calling on the State’s legislative leadership to be a part of the change and solution as well.


“Since 2002, the State of New Jersey has allowed discriminatory Project Labor Agreements to be placed on any public works contract over $5 million.  PLAs discriminates against workers who are non-union, which is more than 78% of the construction workforce in the state.  An overwhelming 98% of all African American and Hispanic construction companies are non-union.  Furthermore, at $5 million, New Jersey has the lowest threshold for a PLAs for state works of any state in the country, meaning there are fewer and less lucrative projects for non-union and minority firms to bid on.”   said John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, AACCNJ.


“If the legislature is looking for solutions, they need to search no further. To ensure more of our public works contracts are afforded to minority and women-owned businesses, increase the threshold from $5 million to $35 million so that our state is in alignment with the federal contracting levels as stipulated by President Biden. The current PLA requirements discriminate against the majority of New Jersey’s workers and only benefits the union special interests,” Harmon continued.


“The Murphy Administration has stated that small businesses are the backbone of New Jersey and I could not agree more. It is my opinion that the best way to foster the growth and success of minority and women owned construction businesses’ in New Jersey would be to remove barriers for them to grow. By increasing the threshold for PLA work on public projects, this would allow more minority and women owned businesses to grow into prime contractors if they choose and be able to perform work throughout the state without barriers. These companies are invested in their employees through workforce development, apprenticeship and safety. Their production of quality work should be taken seriously and they should be allowed to compete regardless of labor affiliation,” said Samantha DeAlmeida Roman, President & CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey.


ABC-NJ and AACCNJ look forward to working with the Governor, his Administration, Legislative Leadership including Senate Labor Chairman Joe Lagana and Assembly Labor Chairman Anthony Verrelli to achieve the objectives outlined and remain committed to being at the table, to work on fair and equitable change on behalf of our state’s minority and women-owned construction businesses.

About Associated Builders and Contractors: ABC is a national association representing 21,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms in 68 chapters across the United States. ABC is the industry’s liaison to federal, state and local governments and the public at large. ABC-NJ is the largest ABC Chapter, with over 1,200 members in all specialties within the construction industry, comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors. ABC-NJ is the voice of free enterprise in the construction industry, encouraging open competition based solely on merit. For more information, please visit our website at abcnjc.org.

About the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey: The AACCNJ performs an essential role in the economic viability of New Jersey. While providing a platform for New Jersey’s African American business leaders, to speak with a collective voice, the AACCNJ advocates and promotes economic diversity fostering a climate of business growth through major initiatives centering on education and public policy. The Chamber serves as a proactive advocacy group with a 501(c) 3 tax exemption, which is shared by the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

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