Construction in New Jersey is growing, and the State is investing in public projects that will help revitalize our economy and give local contractors opportunities. Additionally, this investment is intended to restore construction workers’ next generation through apprenticeship requirements on public projects. The Eastern Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters has been especially interested in the progress and how it’s affected the industry.
Ensuring that everyone on a construction site is highly trained is paramount. It has been over a year since Governor Phil Murphy prioritized this notion signing into law Assembly Bill 3666 in 2018. A3666 went into effect in May of 2019 and mandates that all contracting companies update their training requirements and provide Apprenticeship Programs to craftworkers before stepping foot on a construction site. This way, taxpayer money would not just invest in projects we all need, but also in new workers, we all need. Carpenters who learn on the job in an apprentice program help limit costly issues for contractors, including mistakes on the tasks that lead to lower productivity, further investment in materials, or even injury and death.
Organizations like the Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey (ACCNJ) have understood this importance and provided a smoother transition for contractors looking for public project work.
“New Jersey’s Public Works Contractor Registration Act asks the same of all contractors who want to perform public work. They must participate in an apprenticeship program registered with and approved by the US Department of Labor; That way, when a contractor registers to perform public work in New Jersey, the State and the citizens know the work will be done with the highest standard of skills and safety training,” stated ACCNJ Chief Executive Officer Jack Kocsis, Jr., “That commitment to apprenticeship training must be proven every time the contractor renews registration. It is an ongoing promise on the contractor’s part to provide the most highly skilled workforce on public projects.”
Reviewing the impact this bill has had on the construction industry in New Jersey, it is apparent that the industry is still adapting one year later. Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Local 254 Council Representative Cyndie Williams is seeing the change.
“It’s in the best interest of contractors to comply with the apprenticeship standards when it comes to public work, namely their carpentry scope.” Williams said, “They are already paying their workforce the going rate for carpentry, so additional investment in a new carpenter at the lower price than a journeyman can win bids and gain new trusted workers for future projects.”
“The ACCNJ has members who hire strictly union craft-workers who are trained through the best, most comprehensive safety and skills training in the country – union apprenticeship programs that require years of classroom and job site training to ensure the highest quality demonstration of the craft and the greatest emphasis on safety.” Kocsis continued.
Contractors are reaching out, and the EAS Carpenters Union is listening. They and their Northeast Carpenters Apprentice Training Fund already have a highly established program that provides in-class training in Edison and Hammonton, New Jersey.
“It easy to sell our school model and how it would be free access to quality training for a contractor’s workers. Contractors benefit from the use of the hall should he/she desire to grow their business,” Williams explained, “Many contractors are already successful if they are partnered with a program like ours or not. That was helpful in the end, selling the idea of a partnership.”
Cyndie stated, “New Jersey’s law requiring Contractors to be registered with an Apprenticeship Program before performing public work, allows contractors the resource of utilizing an education and training platform that turns out true construction professionals. Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters is looking for that contractor interested in high standards and is competitive. These new regulations steer such contractors to our apprenticeship website, when otherwise, they may not have known to look. This law also protects our signatory contractors competing in the market against unscrupulous players. Strong Prevailing Wage Laws help to level the playing field.”
Construction will always grow and adapt over time as laws come and go. In New Jersey, it is no different. Revitalizing our local economy is becoming the priority and strengthening the skills for the next crop of carpenters through Apprentice programs. One year later, we see change and contractors beginning to visit the requirements that the union held for over a century. Ensuring safety on the job site should always be the prime concern for a contractor, and the State recognizes this.