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Parsippany Council Meeting: Residents Show Up and Speak Out on PLAs

Published on: 12/12/2022

This news was posted by Parsippany Focus

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PARSIPPANY,  NJ - The most recently approved Project Labor Agreement (PLA) in Parsippany was front-and-center at Tuesday night’s Township Council Agenda meeting as another stream of residents showed up to voice opinions to Parsippany's Council members.

More than a half a dozen residents criticized the township for their October 18th move to mandate PLAs on all major township development valued at $5 million or more. Many residents voiced harsh disapproval and demanded answers. 

Resident Yvonne Ferise chastised the Council, “I am very disappointed in you guys, all of you. We elected you to protect the us taxpayers and you are already not doing it, with Parsippany being the first town in Morris County that has approved this.”

Other residents accused the Council of orchestrating two large out-of-town groups to minimize and intimidate local public comment during two hearings prior to the October 18th mandate vote.

“I would like to know what it will take for you all to listen.  Someone on the council said they did not know that the 200-plus union members at the high school meeting would be there. How could you not know? There were tables set up outside, and there was a truck with a picture of Justin [Councilman Musella] on it. There is no pride left in Parsippany if the PLA is not repealed,” lamented Elaine Gvalgas.

Hank Heller asked which town official called for the external show-of-force to boisterously mute local input, “I am only bringing it up because I think it was a very, very bad idea and whoever it is that brought us this largesse, in fact, did not do you nor us any favors.” Heller added, “In a situation where we (residents) are facing huge increases in insurance costs for municipal employees and looking at large increases in our sewer and water taxes, I think it is important that you rethink what it is that you put forth and come back and help your voters understand why what you are putting forth is useful to us and will help mitigate our costs rather than increase our costs.”

PLA supporting Councilmembers Frank Neglia and Paul Carifi argue that the ordinance will not freeze out non-union businesses or increase project costs for residents because there will be no hidden fees. Neglia and Carifi contend PLAs provide price stability to larger construction projects, guarantee skilled workers, and ensure workplace safety on major projects. 

Councilman Neglia read a prepared statement describing the benefits of the PLA.  ".....The core value that PLAs offer is transparency. It is a public document. Anyone can review it — municipal officials, organizations, construction companies, and the general public — to assess whether the agreement is fair and makes sound business sense. Indeed, it raises the obvious question of why anyone would not support a PLA. This council voted 4-1 to support the mayor’s recommendation to use a PLA on Projects over 5 million.We did so because we consider it to be the fairest, most transparent, and most productive approach to conducting business in the construction industry while benefiting taxpayers, municipalities, construction businesses, and workers. Thank you”

Councilman Justin Musella quickly challenged Councilman Neglia’s claim that the PLA guarantees that 20% of hired contractors will be Parsippany residents. Musella cited the direct wording of the ordinance for the record and noted, “Contrary to what was said about employing 20% of local contractors, the ordinance that we voted on has never stipulated that. It only requires that 20% of the labor hours be completed by 100% of Parsippany-Troy Hills.In real life scenarios, this essentially recycles the same few members over and over again.” Musella was the lone dissenting vote on the PLA mandate calling it “bad public policy”.

Councilman Paul Carifi refuted many residents’ claims that PLAs prohibit non-union contractors from bidding on major projects, “That is not true, 100 percent not true”.

Many of the comments from the Council drew groans and rumblings from attendees who were precluded from responding to claims made by Councilmen dePierro, Neglia and Carifi due to the meeting’s format. 


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