New Jersey State AFL-CIO applauds bipartisan 'Buy American' bill for public projects

Wowkanech: ‘Our tax dollars should be kept here, not sent overseas’

(TRENTON) – The New Jersey State AFL-CIO today applauded the introduction in both the state Senate and Assembly of legislation that would ensure taxpayer money supports American jobs by requiring all state contracts, including state colleges and universities, to “Buy American.”
 
“When we buy American, we protect American jobs and invest in the American economy, from big manufacturers to mom-and-pop stores where workers shop,” said Wowkanech. “Our tax dollars should be kept here at home, not sent overseas. We need to pass this bill and ensure a better future for our workers and a better economy for all residents.”
 
The Senate bill (S-1811) is being sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester). The Assembly measure was introduced by Assemblymen Joe Egan (D-Middlesex) and Sean Kean (R-Monmouth).
 
Wowkanech said the need for the bill was made clear by the fact that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded the contract for structural steel being purchased for the raising the Bayonne Bridge to an Italian firm, Cimolai, despite the fact that two South Plainfield companies – Harris Steel and MRP – located just 45 minutes from the job site bid on the work. Harris Steel and MRP are structural steel fabricators that would have used American-produced steel.
 
The decision has directly cost hundreds of steelworkers their jobs, as MRP has since had to lay off 25 workers, and Harris Steel currently is shut down.
 
Wowkanech said passage of the bill would ensure that residents’ tax are not shipped overseas, as Port Authority toll revenues have been.

“It is shameful that we even need this legislation, given that American manufacturing is still the best in the world and the best investment for the American taxpayer,” said Wowkanech. “Sending taxpayer money to another country for products we make right here at home is an insult to hard-working men and women everywhere.”

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