On behalf of our member companies that make NJBIA the largest, most impactful association in the representing New Jersey businesses, I write to you in opposition to Assembly Bill No. 5794 (Quijano) which would allow unions to file wage claim suits against construction contractors on behalf of workers that are not members of their union.
This legislation will essentially allow labor unions to act in the place of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOL) by bringing forward wage and hour violation suits on behalf of workers that they do not represent. NJBIA opposes allowing private union entities to take on this enforcement power through lawsuits against contractors on behalf of workers that they are not at all connected to. It does not make sense for entities to weigh in on behalf of workers that have not chosen to be part of the union and may actually object to the union’s intervention on their behalf.
Additionally, this bill allows plaintiffs to recover attorneys’ fees and costs. These provisions will incentivize attorneys to seek out union clients that can bring forth wage claim suits against a vast number of contractors and subcontractors. This will lead to increased litigation and costs for construction contractors and unfairly increase the influence of labor unions.
As an alternative to this legislation, we encourage the Legislature to look at ways to enhance DOL’s enforcement capabilities. DOL is uniquely situated to use unbiased discretion to address wage and hour violations. That is why it is the role of the Department, not private unions, to enforce our state wage and hour laws. NJBIA would welcome any and all conversations about how to enhance DOL’s enforcement mechanisms and drive out bad actors that tarnish the reputation of our business community. Unfortunately, we believe this legislation takes the wrong approach to achieve that goal and extends outsized influence to labor unions.