Out-of-work Road Workers Protest at NJ Lawmakers' Offices

August 15, 2016

North Jersey.com reported that unemployed New Jersey union construction workers protested outside the offices of state Senators Bob Gordon, vice chair of the transportation committee, in Fair Lawn and Loretta Weinberg, the Senate majority leader, in Teaneck. Protests were also held at the offices of Senators Jim Whelan and Jeff Van Drew,

“We can’t just wait for the Senate to act whenever they feel like it,” Roger Ellis, a lobbyist for the Heavy and General Construction Laborers Local 472, told NorthJersey.com. “We need action now.” More than 1,000 of the union’s members are out of work due to the shutdown, Lewandowski said.

The protests come 47 days into the shutdown ordered by Governor Christie in late June halting work on all projects funded by the state’s Transportation Trust Fund when the New Jersey legislature, lead by State Senate President Steve Sweeney, could not find a solution to the funding crisis.

Hopes that the shutdown would be short were dashed when Sweeney said last week he expects the construction halt will last until after the November elections.

Given that most road construction projects wind down in November due to cold temperatures, industry leaders have said a political fix in the fall may come too late for thousands of construction workers who may not work again until March.

The shutdown is costing the state $9 million a week in unrealized economic gains, Sweeney said, citing figures from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Last week Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto called for the lawmakers to put their egos aside and meet at an eye-to-eye summit.

The fund now owes $30 billion in principal and interest, and cannot borrow any more money, according to the Transportation Trust Fund Authority, which runs it.