The Right Thing to Do for Workers, City of Newark
(September 8, 2022)
Today, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued a stop work order for the construction project at 155 Jefferson Street in Newark, New Jersey, the proposed Newark High School of Architecture and Interior Design which was being developed by an LLC managed by Summit Assets CEO Albert Nigri. Under the terms of the agreement, the building will be leased back to the Newark Public School District for use as a technical high school. Under New Jersey law, leaseback projects like these are considered public work and must adhere to all pertinent public contracting laws.
LEROF—the organizing arm of Laborers’ International Union of North America—filed a complaint with the NJ DOL in May 2022 alleging workers are exposed to unsafe conditions and are not being paid prevailing wages as required by law.
LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager Raymond M. Pocino stated that the NJ DOL’s decision to issue a stop work order for the 155 Jefferson Street project validates the union’s claims.
“We have spoken to workers on the Jefferson Street project who have been exposed to dangerous and unsafe conditions. We know they have been paid significantly less than the state mandated prevailing wage. We also know that the only one who stands to benefit are the private developers who choose breaking the law over following it,” said Pocino.
“The New Jersey Department of Labor was right to issue a stop work order and I applaud Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo and his staff for doing so,” Pocino continued. “When evidence of illegal activities is found, the NJ DOL must use its powers to address the issue and hold responsible parties accountable. Enforcement of the law not only catches bad guys, it also helps ensure standards are followed and that the public gets what they paid for. It sends a signal to other developers and contractors—follow the law or face the consequences.”
Paul Roldan, Business Manager of LIUNA Local 3 echoed Pocino’s statement. “The public deserves to know that a $160 million school construction project like this is being built to the highest standards. This school can be a model for creating good paying jobs for local residents, for the quality of its construction, and for its value to the community. A stop work order eliminates the immediate risk to workers, but the work doesn’t stop there. Newark Public Schools, the City of Newark, and the State of New Jersey must now do what is necessary to ensure Newark students receive the school they deserve, a school that is built by people who follow the law and serve the public and not themselves.”