The collective bargaining agreement with the Hudson County Building Trades Council guarantees that local labor unions have fleshed out any possible concerns, monetary or work-related, that might interrupt construction. "This is the largest private sector PLA agreement done in the state of New Jersey," said Eric Boyce, treasurer of the Hudson County Building Trades Council.
While the size and scope of the $1.3 billion 40-story Goldman Sachs building has become a spectacle, there have not been many PLA agreements in the past to compare it to. According to Tom Foy, a consultant for Goldman Sachs, the PLA agreement was used over a decade ago for construction on the Turnpike and in Mercer County.
During that time, PLA agreements in large construction projects became mandatory. Introduced in the early 1990s as an executive order by former Gov. Jim Florio, the PLA is a collective bargaining agreement for large, complex construction projects that involve multiple contractors and many trades. Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman revoked this mandate during her tenure, but companies and unions could still do it voluntarily. Newly elected Gov. James McGreevey has restored the mandate.
In 1997, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail formed a PLA agreement with the Hudson County Buildings Trade Council. Unlike the Light Rail, Goldman Sachs is a private company. Goldman Sachs representatives said that McGreevey's administration praised the PLA agreement, calling it a model for later ones.
The Hudson County Building Trades Council represents area unions, promoting local contractors for local construction. The details of the agreement were not provided, but Goldman Sachs was excited to announce its $100,000 contribution to the Hudson County Building Trades Council for job training programs. "It will help bring more [local] people into the unions, and provide job training," said Barry Zubrow, chief administrative officer for Goldman Sachs.
The lack of area residents receiving the lucrative construction jobs and contracting work that development brings has been a source of contention of Mayor Glenn Cunningham. "This is a new day for unions and how they operate," said Anthony Cruz, deputy mayor. Although there was an absence of minorities at the celebration, Cruz said that the money for job training would help minorities get these jobs.
In the case of the Goldman Sachs building, which might have up to 2,000 workers on the construction site at a time, a collective bargaining agreement attempts to iron out potential disagreements. Rising 778 feet into the sky, the 40-story building will be New Jersey's tallest, providing Jersey City with an additional two million square feet of office space. According to Zubrow, construction on the building, slated to be completed by the end of 2003, is ahead of schedule.
Turner Construction, a New York-based firm, is in charge of the project. But the Italian restaurant was packed with local union representatives making repeated toasts to the deal. "This is the best thing for labor," said Anthony Valdner, a business agent for the local chapter of the Teamsters. "It guarantees good work, which a non-union job can't give."
The agreement had been signed in the summer, with this celebration originally planned for Sept. 11. "We wanted to give it proper distance from that day," Foy said.