For stronger worker protections, Gov. Murphy and Commissioner Angelo deserve our thanks

For stronger worker protections, Gov. Murphy and Commissioner Angelo deserve our thanks

By Raymond M. Pocino
International Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager
Laborers’ International Union of North America

Good government is good for New Jersey and the Three Sons Restoration case is a classic example of how creating, monitoring, and enforcing wage, hour, and labor laws is an effective way to support workers, save taxpayers money, and create an environment where honest businesses and not habitual cheaters are hired for public work.

Three Sons Restoration, LLC was a contractor of nefarious reputation. For years LIUNA heard rumors of the company exploiting their workforce. We heard it enough times that our union assigned organizers to investigate the claims. Over the course of many months, we met with Three Sons employees and listened to their stories. We visited worksites and pulled payroll records. It was clear that Three Sons was breaking several laws and we knew it. Of course, knowing something to be true and being able to do something about it are two different things. This is where good government and the leadership of Governor Phil Murphy and Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo were so critical.

Let’s cut to the end of this story and Three Sons Restoration. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Labor issued work stoppage orders for wage violations at two construction sites managed by Three Sons. This was a first-of-its-kind action taken by the department after Governor Murphy expanded the department’s enforcement authorities only months before.

In 2021, Three Sons was assessed approximately $2.75 million in back wages, penalties, and fees following a NJDOL investigation into the contractor’s failure to pay its employees the state prevailing wage at six job sites. Approximately 90 employees will receive the back wages they earned but were denied by their employer.

LIUNA believes in protecting and advancing the rights of workers and thankfully so do Governor Murphy and Commissioner Angelo.  Especially in public construction where work is awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, cheating workers and falsifying documents becomes the “easy” way to gain a competitive advantage. It is easy, I should point out, until one is caught in the act by the State of New Jersey. Then, life for crooked contractors is anything but easy. This is as it should be, and thankfully, as it is today.

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