Developers will face penalties if they don't comply with the ordinance.
Prior to last week's approval, local politicos had discussed such a project labor agreement, or PLA, for nearly 10 years.
They explored putting more Jersey City residents to work on city construction projects because residents complained of being deprived of the recent development boom's financial rewards.
The ordinance was first proposed in February and called for developers getting tax abatements to use union labor for private projects costing over $15 million and city projects costing over $5 million.
That ordinance also included penalties for non-compliance: The private developer's tax abatement deal would be terminated, or he'd be fined.
But that ordinance was tabled at a Feb. 27 City Council meeting because the council wanted to study the labor agreement further, to clarify issues such as how much control a developer had over hiring.
The new ordinance applies only to developers with tax-abated projects worth $25 million or more. It also allows developers the option to use only 10 percent if there is a scarcity of available apprentices.
A tax abatement is an agreement to exempt a developer from regular, fluctuating property taxes. There is usually a separate revenue deal for the developer to pay money to the city over 20 or 30 years. The agreement is meant to encourage developers to build in certain areas.Penalties
The ordinance that was passed on Wednesday states that developers would have to pay $1,000 per day for filing a late report on the hiring. After 14 days, there would be a monthly penalty of 2 percent of their payment in lieu of taxes (PILOTS).
More than a hundred laborers from various local unions packed the council chambers Wednesday to encourage the council to approve the ordinance. Among them was Eric Boyce, president of the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council, who addressed the council.
"The council has their best chance ever to achieve everyone's longstanding goals here, that the residents of Jersey City are able to enjoy constructive, meaningful careers in the construction industry," Boyce said. Recommendations
At Monday's council caucus that preceded Wednesday's meeting, City Councilman Bill Gaughan had taken issue with some aspects of the ordinance.
Gaughan wanted the ordinance to apply only to developments worth $35 million or more, not $25 million. Gaughan also proposed to decrease the penalty for filing a late report from $1,000 a day to $500. Gaughan also wanted to specify in the ordinance that construction projects must be comprised of 80 to 90 percent of union laborers.
He said his changes would help developers with smaller projects.
But Bill Matsikoudis, the city's corporation counsel, disagreed strongly with Gaughan's proposed changes, saying they would allow more nonunion construction workers on the city sites, and would allow developers to escape signing the agreement.
At one point, Gaughan yelled at Matsikoudis for "disagreeing" too much with him about the changes.
By Wednesday's meeting, Gaughan had a change of heart and supported the ordinance without changes. He apologized to those involved in constructing the agreement.
"I intend to vote for the ordinance as it was introduced," Gaughan said. "My concern was on Monday night, knowing this document would be voted on this evening, and I wanted to make sure we got it absolutely right." Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org