JERSEY CITY, N.J. | New Jersey City University (NJCU) and the Hudson County Building Trades signed a historic Project Labor Agreement (PLA) and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at providing internship opportunities for NJCU students at a joint news conference on campus on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.
The agreement makes NJCU the first public university in the state of New Jersey to execute such a Project Labor Agreement, which will authorize all university construction projects that exceed $5 million be completed by union labor.
The PLA agreement memorializes NJCU’s commitment to partnering with Hudson County community leaders so that its diverse, local residents are able to take part in economic opportunities provided by future university construction projects. Meanwhile, the MOU establishes a program wherein University students are able to participate in internship and/or externship opportunities to gain meaningful experiences.
NJCU Interim President Andrés Acebo, Hudson Building Trades President Patrick Kelleher, Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea, and Assembly Deputy Majority Leader and New Jersey Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight all spoke at the event, which was also attended by union leaders including those from the Building Trades, statewide CWA, and NJCU AFT Local 1839.
Event Photo Gallery (Photo Credit: Paul Gargiulo, NJCU University Communications)
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES and STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT:
Assembly Deputy Majority Leader and New Jersey Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight
“Today’s PLA shows that NJCU is not going anywhere — and this agreement will be a catalyst for other institutions to follow. Today’s important step will provide opportunities for minorities in our community and the access to paid internships will allow some students to get paid while learning, with apprenticeships right here in their own community. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be here to witness a partnership that’s for the people, by the people.”
“In the second largest municipality in the state of New Jersey, NJCU has been here for almost a century. Generations of families have gone to this university. NJCU is a staple in the community. To have this ripped out from underneath us would be devastating. Most of the alumni and those students attending now are not aware of what has transpired on campus. What they do know is they want to come here for an education and continue coming here, and they want their children to come here. It’s a staple in the community and it’s an institution that needs just a little help. NJCU has hit a bump in the road but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We need all stakeholders in the state of New Jersey to come together as a family to lift NJCU up.”
Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea
“As a strong advocate for both organized labor and public education, I’m very pleased to see the Hudson County Building Trades and New Jersey City University come together today for this historic announcement. Our public institutions must always take whatever steps they can to partner with the working men and women of our labor unions and this agreement is a testament to that principle. NJCU is an indispensable resource to so many Hudson County residents and I will do whatever I can to advocate for more support to help it thrive well into the future.”
NJCU Interim President Andrés Acebo
“New Jersey City University is the state’s most socio-economically diverse public university and the oldest minority- and Hispanic-serving university in the state — anchored in the state’s most diverse region and second-most populous city. As such, NJCU has an obligation to the community it serves to be a true anchor institution. The historic nature of this PLA is as a blanket commitment that any major public works project that the university spurs or supports on its campuses will be dedicated to ensuring that the men and women in this community are direct beneficiaries not just of the final product but in its labor and economic stimulation. A tenet of this institution has been and must continue to be economic mobility. Finding community partners and organizations that are similarly anchored into that principle is critically important and that’s what we solidified and memorialized with this partnership.”
“We echo and show a model that in these partnerships we need to do things differently and innovatively to hold us accountable to the people we serve. I’m proud to enshrine a commitment that should be emulated to ensure that state and local investments remain in the community that is intended to benefit from it, and its dollars circulate multiple times in our community before it leaves it. This is particularly important because the economic impact of an anchor institution like NJCU extends beyond the confines of its physical campus. The MOU we signed will be ratified in February by the Board of Trustees and it establishes a community partnership for our students with the Business Trades business offices and their contractors so that everything that touches and concerns this institution is linked and tethered to our mission — a mission of economic mobility, of upward social mobility, of taking a socioeconomically diverse population and historically underserved and marginalized community and empowering them. That’s an obligation that this institution must honor, and we are privileged to find community partners and stakeholders that share that goal and are willing to champion it together.”
Hudson Building Trades President Patrick Kelleher:
“Today’s announcement is a point of pride. The Building Trades members, their kids, and their families went to this institution and will work on projects where they live. We have members who live in Jersey City who can work on maintenance projects, and other members looking to open small minority-owned union businesses who will have an opportunity to bid on work. This doesn’t just benefit Jersey City, but the entire county and its surrounding communities. The apprenticeship program with the university is a partnership — one about opportunities and forging a relationship with the college and the building trades. The commitment we have made to NJCU is that we want the university to succeed. This is going to be a success story.”
New Jersey State AFL-CIO
“Project Labor Agreements are a win-win for workers and employers. Workers get good-paying union jobs, while employers can trust that projects will be completed on-time and with the highest quality of work.
We thank and congratulate Hudson County Building Trades Council President Patrick Kelleher, Andrés Acebo, Interim President of New Jersey City University, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), and Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea, in addition to the members of Hudson County Building Trades along with our brothers and sisters in the public sector, including John Polk of CWA 1031, whose support was critical to finalizing this agreement.”