Labor leaders: Restarting non-essential construction is big step for rebuilding economy

By Tom Bergeron
New Jersey | May 14, 2020 at 4:26 am

Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to restart non-essential construction on Monday was met with applause from some local labor leaders.

File photos
Mark Longo of ELEC825.

Mark Longo, director of the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative, said the decision is the right step forward for New Jersey on the road to recovery.

“Allowing additional construction projects to resume will put thousands of our residents safely back to work, and will set a strong foundation for our economy,” he said.

“Construction and infrastructure investment must be a priority for our state — that’s why we support the governor moving forward with the pending capital improvement plans from the (New Jersey Turnpike Authority) and (South Jersey Transportation Authority) to further stimulate our economic recovery, put people to work and improve our critical infrastructure while fewer people remain on the roads.”

Murphy, who made the announcement at his daily COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, said he made the decision based on the fact that the state’s residents have shown they can abide by the necessary social distancing requirements.

Those regulations will continue on job sites.

Murphy said the following “sensible safeguards” will be in place to prevent overcrowding at the jobsite and ensure proper sanitation:

  • Requiring the use of face coverings;
  • Prohibiting non-essential visitors;
  • Staggering work hours and breaks to limit the number of workers at one time.

Greg Lalevee of IUOE 825.

“All safety protocols must be clearly posted at the jobsite so workers will know that their health and safety is priority No. 1,” Murphy said.

Greg Lalevee, the business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, said it’s another step in the reopening process.

“It maintains momentum going forward,” he said. “It will help put some operating engineers and several other trades back to work. And it will help save the work year for some businesses and their workforce.”

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