Labor Union

New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Location:

Clark, NJ

President:

William Mullen

Type:

Union Federation

Budget (2020):

Revenue: $899,086

Expenses: $949,304

Assets: $230,446

The New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council is a labor union federation that represents local unions from fifteen different national or international unions related to building and construction. The council was founded in 1903 and represents nearly 150,000 employees from over 100 local unions throughout the state of New Jersey. The council also operates 13 local building and construction trades councils that are comprised of local unions across one or more counties in the state. The council is affiliated with the left-of-center AFL-CIO national labor federation and predominately endorses democratic candidates for office, however has distinguished itself from other unions by endorsing several republicans in most election cycles. [1] [2] [3]

The council is comprised of New Jersey-based local unions of national unions such as the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). [4]

Background

The New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council was formed in 1903. The council is comprised of local and state-level chapters of 15 different national labor unions that cover the building and construction trades such as ironworkers, pipefitters, laborers, electrical workers, and several others. The council also operates 13 local building trades councils that cover one or more counties in New Jersey. The union claims to represent over 100 local unions in the state and 150,000 total employees. [5]

The council lobbies on labor-friendly legislation that is often left-of-center and predominately endorses Democrats for office but has been known to endorse Republican candidates as well. It has been known to avoid left-of-center special interest causes outside policies related directly to the building and construction labor movement. [6]

The council is headed by longtime president William T. “Bill” Mullen. Mullen is described as a key ally of former powerful New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D), who lost an upset reelection bid in 2021, and state Democratic Party power broker George Norcross. [7]

Affiliated Unions

The New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council represents workers from unions including the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers; Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association; United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers; Laborers’ International Union of North America, AFL-CIO (LIUNA); International Union of Operating Engineers; Asbestos Workers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada; United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers; Sheet Metal Workers International Association; and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. [8]

Local Council Affiliates

The New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council also operates 13 local building and construction trades councils that cover one or more counties. The local councils also endorse candidates for state and local office with their endorsements sometimes differing from the state council, such as the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council endorsing then-Governor Chris Christie (R) for reelection in 2013. [9] Other than Hudson County, other notable local trade councils under the state council’s umbrella include those in Essex County, Mercer County, Union County, and Middlesex County. [10]

Funding

The New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council is funded by local union members, local building and construction trades councils, national unions, and advocacy groups. Listed sponsors of the council in 2022 included the Advocacy and Management Group, the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust, Cleary Josen and Trigiani, Ullico, SMART New Jersey State Council, the New Jersey State Association of Pipe Trades, and Atalanta Sosnoff Capital LLC. [11]

Activity

The New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council endorses candidates for public office as well as lobbies on pro-union legislation. Most of the council’s lobbying efforts are directed to specific legislation in the New Jersey General Assembly that directly affects building and construction. The union has endorsed legislation that expands the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) to public entities not otherwise covered by current law, expanding the number of projects required to use union workers. The council also supports prevailing wage laws and strict employee classification definitions that limit the use of independent contractors. [12]

Longtime president of the council, Bill Mullen, warned members of the council at a 2021 conference to not get involved in “special interest” advocacy or politics and not to “get distracted by causes outside the core mission of building trades.” Mullen further stated that “all we do is build” and that “Building Trades must remain united in our policies and objectives and we must continue to maintain a bipartisan approach in the political arena and business community.” [13]

Political Endorsements

The New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council predominately endorses Democratic candidates for office but has routinely endorsed a small number of Republican candidates for the state legislature and occasionally has endorsed Republican members of the New Jersey congressional delegation. In 2013 the group endorsed 19 Republicans and 81 Democrats in state legislative races. [14]

In the 2018 election cycle, the council endorsed Republican Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), who were both unseated. In 2020 the council endorsed mostly Democrats for Congress including Amy Kennedy, the opponent of Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) who had previously received Council support before he switched parties and became a Republican, with the exception of Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). The council also endorsed U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) for reelection in 2020. [15]

Ties to “Dark Money” Groups

In 2021, Politico reported that a dark money group called the General Growth Fund, which was closely tied to New Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, gave nearly $1 million to three other “dark money” groups before folding. One of the three groups was called the Prosperity First Committee, which received $742,355 from the General Growth Fund, and was headed by New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council president William T. Mullen. Mullen is described as a key ally of Norcross and then-state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D). [16]

Other funds from the General Growth Fund went to an organization promoting Sweeney’s agenda called the NJ Future Fund and another group, New Jersey Education Watch, that was critical of the New Jersey Education Association, the statewide teachers union that had publicly feuded with Sweeney and Norcross. [17]

References

  1. “Home.” New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council. Accessed August 17, 2022. http://www.njbctc.org/ ^
  2. Molnar, Philip. “New Jersey labor organization touts endorsement of Republicans in 24th District.” Lehigh Valley Live. September 7, 2011. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/warren-county/express-times/2011/09/senator_steve_oroho_receives_e.html ^
  3. Isherwood, Darryl. “Trades Council Releases Endorsements.” Observer. June 7, 2013. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://observer.com/2013/06/trades-council-releases-endorsements/ ^
  4. “Directory of New Jersey Building Trades Councils and Business Agents by Trade.” Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey. 2017. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.accnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017-DIRECTORY-OF-NEW-JERSEY-BUILDING-TRADES-COUNCILS-and-BUSINESS-AGENTS.pdf ^
  5. “Home.” New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council. Accessed August 17, 2022. http://www.njbctc.org/ ^
  6. Pizarro, Max. “Mullen to Building Trades Members: Don’t Get Involved in Special Interest Causes.” Insider NJ. October 12, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.insidernj.com/mullen-building-trades-members-dont-get-involved-special-interest-causes/ ^
  7. Freidman, Matt. “How a former Norcross-linked dark money group spent its last $1M.” Politico. August 16, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2021/08/16/how-a-former-norcross-linked-dark-money-group-spent-its-last-1m-1390091 ^
  8. [1] “Directory of New Jersey Building Trades Councils and Business Agents by Trade.” Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey. 2017. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.accnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017-DIRECTORY-OF-NEW-JERSEY-BUILDING-TRADES-COUNCILS-and-BUSINESS-AGENTS.pdf ^
  9. “Hudson County Building Trades Council Supports Chris Christie.” NJ.com. July 2013. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.nj.com/hudson/2013/07/hudson_county_building_trades_council_supports_chris_christie.html ^
  10. “Directory of New Jersey Building Trades Councils and Business Agents by Trade.” Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey. 2017. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.accnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017-DIRECTORY-OF-NEW-JERSEY-BUILDING-TRADES-COUNCILS-and-BUSINESS-AGENTS.pdf ^
  11. “Sponsors.” New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council. Accessed August 17, 2022. http://www.njbctc.org/about-us/sponsors/ ^
  12. Urgent Action Requested.” New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council. December 9, 2019. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://bacnj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/URGENT-CALL-CONTACT-ASSEMBLY.pdf ^
  13. Pizarro, Max. “Mullen to Building Trades Members: Don’t Get Involved in Special Interest Causes.” Insider NJ. October 12, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.insidernj.com/mullen-building-trades-members-dont-get-involved-special-interest-causes/ ^
  14. “Trades Council Releases Endorsements.” Observer. June 2013. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://observer.com/2013/06/trades-council-releases-endorsements/ ^
  15.  Wildstein, David. “NJ State Building & Construction Trades drops Van Drew, endorses Kennedy in NJ-2.” New Jersey Globe. July 28, 2020. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://newjerseyglobe.com/congress/nj-state-building-construction-trades-drops-van-drew-endorses-kennedy-in-nj-2/ ^
  16. Freidman, Matt. “How a former Norcross-linked dark money group spent its last $1M.” Politico. August 16, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2021/08/16/how-a-former-norcross-linked-dark-money-group-spent-its-last-1m-1390091 ^
  17. Freidman, Matt. “How a former Norcross-linked dark money group spent its last $1M.” Politico. August 16, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2021/08/16/how-a-former-norcross-linked-dark-money-group-spent-its-last-1m-1390091 ^
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