Ironworkers

Dear Editor,

I would like to introduce myself; my name is Greg Ferretti and I have been a resident of Gloucester County for 53 years. I reside in Deptford, NJ with my wife Lori and my two children Vincent and Ginamarie.

I am a Union Ironworker from Local #399 out of South Jersey. As an Ironworker I have worked in most towns in New Jersey and many projects in Philadelphia as well. My children went to school here and are now in college. This was possible for my family due to the standard of area wages.

In the past 10 years however, I have seen the face of local construction change dramatically. We far too often see local projects being completed with no local contractors and no local labor working on the projects. This does not help our local community and drives down local wages.

As a resident of South Jersey and a Union Ironworker this is very concerning. We bargain for area standard wages and ensure that local members have good benefits and a retirement account. Whether a contractor is union or not these standards should be there and contractors should be local when possible. This is typically not the case, out of state contractors severely undercut these wages, benefits, and safety standards we enforce locally.

This is very evident currently in Logan Township on Route 322, from the Commodore Barry Bridge to Kingsway High School. The warehouse industry work is exploding in this area and all over our towns.

As a young Ironworker I worked on many projects in Pureland Industrial Park. It is sad to say that today there are no local contractors on many of these projects for the Ironworker and many other trades are facing the same battle. These workers are coming in from as far south as Florida and as far west as Nebraska. Most are not citizens, and most do not even have working papers.

Owners, Developers, General Contractors, and out of state subcontractors are exploiting these workers and the NJ taxpayer is getting left out. I know this firsthand, having posted a referral complaint with the NJ DOL for potential wage violations by a subcontractor for the project on in Woolwich Township.

This is happening all over our State. No taxes are paid here, not stimulating our local economy at all.

Many local construction workers in Gloucester County and Logan Township would love to be on these projects and they are not. You will see license plates from numerous other states. As a resident of Gloucester County, I ask that our local politicians and neighbors stand up for our residents’ jobs. We are the coaches, voters, teachers, daughters, and sons of our towns. Let’s keep NJ jobs here and not send our money to other States.

As a member of my Union I have participated in local trade school seminars, career days, and high school programs, teaching our youth about the trades. College isn’t for everyone, and local trades pick up those young adults looking for a career.

Recently my local union was asked to fix the goals for Logan Twp. Soccer, and we agreed and volunteered without hesitation. Try that with the contractors doing most of the work on 322. The contractors working here are not giving back to our communities.

If we continue to undermine this workforce with out of state contractors and low wages, we will be damaging our local youth’s opportunity for a livable wage in our own backyards. It is NOT right what is going on!

Greg Ferretti, Deptford Twp., NJ

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42 Responses

  1. The people in charge of hiring these out-of-state contractors are only worried about themselves they are not worried about the people that live in the area and other people in the state of New Jersey something has to be said and done please let everybody know what is going on. We the people of New Jersey will not be able to stay in the state with the cost of rising taxes and the brakes constantly going to other people from other states that don’t have to obey by the laws and rules we live by.

    1. Well said Greg! Not only out of state workers but workers not from this country which compounds the problem with taxation! Build American, Hire Local Americans and support your Local Unions like we have in the past!!!

  2. The people in charge of hiring these out-of-state contractors are only worried about themselves they are not worried about the people that live in the area and other people in the state of New Jersey something has to be said and done please let everybody know what is going on. We the people of New Jersey will not be able to stay in the state with the cost of rising taxes and the brakes constantly going to other people from other states that don’t have to obey by the laws and rules we live by. Please let the people of New Jersey know what is really going on thank you

  3. Politicians in Swedesboro and Woolwich should be ashamed of themselves!! By doing this they drive down wages and undermine our local working class. For years the work has been given away to outside contractors and this simply means they do not care about South Jersey and only want to line they’re own pockets. South Jersey construction should be for the local unions that feed and raise our children.

  4. I completely agree that all building and construction work completed in New Jersey should only be performed by local resident Tradesmen of New Jersey .

  5. I live less than a mile from the work on 322 and its a big concern for me. I agree 100% with Mr Ferrety. I pay taxes to live in this town yet drive an hour away to work a lot of the time. My family is full of tradesmen that would benefit from these jobs. And everyday I drive by and its a slap in the face to the working man that lives in this area.

  6. I could not agree more with this article. We need to support our local communities and workers. With the rising cost in the state, tax payers need the work.

  7. This article was well put and I strongly agree with Greg ..I also have been a Gloucester County resident most of my life and have been fortunate enough to work locally and provide for my wife and children working in construction as a member of a local union however I too have noticed the drastic change in man power coming in from other states…this has brought some level of uncertainty not only to my future as a union construction worker but also to the future of the ones I provide for ..I pray that the standard we have set can be upheld and that we can continue to move forward and prosper in our local communities without being replaced by cheap, unskilled, unsafe labor!

  8. I have been an Ironworker since 1995, and I have lived in Gloucester County all my life. I have worked on many warehouse and road projects in the Swedesboro/Logan area. In the past 10 years, I’ve noticed a lack of Union projects in this area and surrounding areas. As a member of this community, I’d like to see there be an honest effort to utilize Union contractors who hire local members and help support our local and state economies. We provide a highly skilled and qualified workforce and take pride in helping our local communities.

  9. Very well said !!! I hope that people also read this and it hits home for them as well!!!!

  10. As a local iron worker I agree! We need to keep the work local so we can help and support the community we live in.

  11. 100% agreed. I’ve been a union iron worker for close to 20 years and lived in Gloucester county my whole life. Watching more n more work go to out of state contractors that don’t support local business or local taxes. Take the money out of state and pay their employees little. So help support local unions and local contractors.

  12. I could not agree more with Mr Ferretti. My family has been in the area for generations and I myself am raising my 2 children in Gloucester county. I am a graduate of Gloucester County Institute of Technology and a member of Ironworkers Local 399. We need to support our local workforce and contractors for all of the reasons given above. We are doing a disservice to both our current and future generations by not ensuring local workers have a chance to succeed.

  13. As a life long southern New Jersey resident with a young family, I would like to be able to give my family the same opportunities that were afforded to me. My parents, both blue collar workers, who lived in the community that they were employed had strong beliefs in giving back to their community. Are these contractors working on these warehouses in Gloucester County involved in any community programs, paying a fair living wage to their workers, or even paying their fair share of NJ tax? With the future in mind, it would be in the best interest of NJ, both locally and statewide, to maintain a standard of local contractors working on local projects. Keeping NJ money, paying for NJ workers, and stimulating NJ revenue.

  14. This truly saddens me as a resident and tax payer of New Jersey knowing how these out of state workers are taking jobs from our local residents who are paying taxes I feel as we should have more support to our local men and women with them being out of work and giving it to out of state workers is absolutely upsetting we need to keep our area wages and safety standers strong

  15. As a local construction worker I see this every day and it’s only been getting worse and worse. I support change happening and I hope it happens sooner than later so lower and middle class families in this area can prosper. It’s really disappointing seeing so many out of state contractors and out of state workers in this area. It is not fair to the community as we all deserve to be able to work in the towns we raise our children and pay taxes in.
    Well said!

  16. Thank you Mr. Ferretti for bringing attention to this terrible exploitation of our community and our jobs. I too work construction in S. Jersey and there are just as many Pennsylvania license plates on my job as NJ plates. Many of the companies on my job are not from NJ. This ultimately reveals that most of the money being earned or made here and the benefits of that money not only leaves our community but actually is taken out of NJ. Unfortunately this is no secret to those with the power to fix this. All of this is happening to the detriment of the local communities, companies and the citizens.

    We try to vote people in office that we believe have our best interest at heart. Regrettably once they are in office, we now found ourselves in this position. There are over 100,000 Union workers in just S. Jersey. Believe me, we are feeling the pinch from our outsourced jobs. Therefore, we are paying close attention and we’re going to show up at the polls to vote for those who care about our jobs and our communities.

  17. It is not right what is going on!! I’ve been an iron worker for over 20 years. In the past 10 years I have been out of work for at least six months every year. Not only are they taking our work, they aren’t giving back to our community. This needs to stop.

  18. I have to agree with Mr.Ferretti, I am also a tradesman living in Gloucester Co. It’s very disappointing seeing all the out of state license plates who are working on these large construction projects. The lack of local residents and lack of local contractors is NOT helping our local economy. Let’s put local residents to work first!

  19. I cannot agree with this more, our local contractors, residents and economy are being destroyed because of this.
    We have spoke with the mayor and his team about these issues a couple months ago they were supposed to do a follow up meeting on possible ways to fix this but we have not heard anything from them, even though we have reached back out them a couple times. Some of the solutions we discussed with them would help create career opportunities for the residents of the surrounding communities also.

  20. As a Local Union #98 retired electrician who has lived in Logan Township for the last 26 years, I am very disappointed that this work is not being performed by local tradesmen. Has there been any response from our local politicians?

    1. Good morning John,
      We have not heard from any local politicians on this issue. Contractors, GC’s and owners have included. It is a sad state of affairs.

  21. I agree with what Mr Feretti is saying. This isn’t just in Gloucester county but Burlington and others as well. We need to hold our politicians accountable. When they ask for our support we give it readily whether it’s voting or helping our communities. These out of area contractors take their money and do nothing to support the local community. Thank you Mr Feretti for speaking up!

    1. As I near the end of my Ironworking career that I started in 1979 I’ve sadly watched my trade slowly slip away from building this Which once the Great State of New Jersey. With Politics and the Contractor s bringing in companies from outside our state lines and even our borders. I had the pleasure of raising a family and buying a home and giving my children and grandkids things they needed and wanted. It looks like if we don’t change the direction that this County AND this Country is going none of our future generations are going to be able to do the thugs we did for them. Just tell your family and friends who don’t believe to just take a ride around and look at all the foreign plates on jobs sites.

  22. I agree with 100%. As a local union ironworker from South Jersey we see this more frequently in our surrounding counties. It’s a shame to see these people making money where we could be working and making great money for our families and for the rest of our union members. We have more than enough skill and manpower for the work in our state. We are the ones that pay the state taxes therefore we are the ones that deserve to work in our state.

  23. It’s hard to imagine why anyone in Gloucester County wouldn’t stand with us. I’m a third generation resident of Woodbury Heights with no plans of leaving, and I would love to see that my sons have an opportunity to be the fourth. Without work and wages consistent with our cost of living, this becomes very complicated. This is important because when we are able to establish our families to an area it creates a sense of duty to serve our community in any small way that we can. The town itself become your family. This benefits the community exponentially as we create more opportunities for more families to establish. Keeping the work local in New Jersey is an effort to serve the greater good of our towns and cities.

  24. Thank you Greg,
    Your statement is on point. The problem starts at the bidding level where some contractors in the GC field with the help of there puppets in government rub Pennie’s together to try and create a dollar. There methods involve hiring non union and subpar or nefarious minded subcontractors who then hire illegals and out of state boomers who travel in pacts and live mostly in there vehicles. The kicker being the cash payments to these workers. That makes fare bidding and competition non existent on these jobs that would feed close to 150 local families for 6+ months or longer. Mayors, city council and building departments in all municipalities need to get there act together. Protect the men and women who pay you as there REPRESENTATIVES. Not Leaders as some of you call yourself’s… and if you want to be known as leaders you must unconditionally and with out fear act as such.
    Thank you,
    Those who represent the people must know that there foolishness will lead to failure. And their devotion to good…. will lead to greatness.

  25. As a resident of Gloucester county and member of local 399, I agree 100% with Greg. I have watched the work diminish to out of state contractors.

  26. As a resident of Gloucester county and member of local 399, I agree 100% with Greg. I have watched the work diminish to out of state contractors. At one time our local members flourished in places with local contractors and now this seems to be no longer an option. It needs to change

  27. I’m a third generation resident of Woodbury Heights with no plans of leaving, and I would love to see that my sons have an opportunity to be the fourth. Without work and wages consistent with our cost of living, this becomes very complicated. This is important because when we are able to establish our families to an area it creates a sense of duty to serve our community in any small way that we can. The town itself become your family. This benefits the community exponentially as we create more opportunities for more families to establish. Keeping the work local in New Jersey is an effort to serve the greater good of our towns and cities.

  28. Driving down wages and hiring out of state contractors instead of our residents has a ripple effect on the community. It takes years to sometimes notice but when our neighbors are losing jobs because they are being awarded to someone with no ties to the community, it’s less money to spend at the local grocery store, restaurant or retailers. It hurts everyone long term. Not to mention the fact that a lot of these workers are being extorted by their employers. A undocumented worker is at the complete mercy of his employer. The owners of these companies know this and force workers to work under unsafe conditions, cheat them out of overtime and treat them as property instead of people. The developers of these projects should be held accountable and have a vested interest in the community they are building in. Business is business but doing it with integrity and compassion as should be a part of any business decision!!!

  29. As being a resident of South Jersey my entire life and raised through a house of a skilled tradesman it has given me the foundation and fundamentals to work with in raising my own family of 4 children. By local politicians awarding contracts to contractors outside of our state it hurts the local community and the taxpayers of whom keep local government running day to day. This is not the way to keep NJ strong. Hiring local contractors and skilled workers however will and has always kept NJ strong.
    David Weber Galloway Twp., NJ

  30. Thank you Mr. Ferretti for shining a little on the problem we all have been sharing for many years. As local taxpayers we should be part of the building process in our local communities. Unfortunately local residents are missing out on this serge of construction that is going on around us. This problem needs to be fixed to secure a fair wage not only for us but for the future of our children’s children.

  31. This editorial is completely correct. How is it fair to local residents to watch money go out of this state on a daily basis. Local workers at all levels are sitting home running out of unemployment and out-of-state workers are coming here and taking the money home with them. This needs to stop. Many of these contractors who bring these workers are cheating on workman’s comp and do not have the proper insurances. How is that fair to our contractors here in New Jersey. Those workers depend on those contractors to get these jobs. Everyone needs to be playing on an even field. And local politicians are well aware of this problem and have chosen to look the other way. Why are they in office if not to protect the residents of this state?

  32. I completely agree. All these out of state worker’s benefiting off of what is happening in NJ is completely wrong . Especially when there are plenty of skilled labor in the area already . If that’s not a kick in the nuts , these people aren’t paying into the state like a normal residents would , so our people don’t go to work and the out of state workers do it cheaper and jersey gets scammed out of tax revenue. I stand with Greg Ferretti.

  33. Mr. Ferretti “hit the nail on the head”. I’ve lived most of my life in Gloucester County. As an Ironworker, I’ve worked on numerous projects throughout South Jersey. There’s a sense of pride that comes when you work on local projects. Some of the projects might be a grocery store that we now buy our groceries from or the Home Improvement store where you buy materials for your home or yard. It’s not just about the pride, but also supporting our local economy and generating Tax revenue. Over the past 10 years these projects are getting less and less because of out of state contractors and subcontractors working in South Jersey. You see license plates from Tennessee, Georgia, and as far as Alabama. None of these out of state contractors pay Taxes like the residents of South Jersey, nor do they support our communities.

    Many South Jersey Ironworkers volunteer their time to their community as well as other communities also. I’ve personally worked with other Ironworkers on numerous projects. We’ve built a new playground, renovated a building for the Boy Scouts, and built a new school for St. John of God to name a few. None of this would be possible if we didn’t have good jobs and local wage standards.

    South Jersey construction workers give a lot back to our communities. You won’t see an out of state contractor or subcontractor donate any of their time. They are here to make money and run! I ask our local leaders to hear the voices of South Jerseyan’s, and save local jobs and wage standards for the people of South Jersey.

  34. As a local iron worker I agree! We need to keep the work local so we can help and support the community we live in. Taxpayers should not have to leave the state to find work!

  35. This has been a problem for a long time that affects everyone not just the people working in the trades. When you talk to local planning board members they say you have to be able be competitive, however they never take into account the fact that these people they hire from out of state do not receive health benefits nor do they receive any type of retirement which in the end cost every taxpayer money .This all has to be taken into consideration when comparing pricing for projects. Residents in our local area have enjoyed a standard of living in the past which cannot be sustained if we continue this practice, eventually this will lower our standard of living and at the same time our local residents will be losing there homes and put additional pressure on our local government to be able to provide the services that we have become accustomed to. So I urge everyone involved in the process of our local development to look at the whole picture when considering these projects so that it will benefit our communities both for the long term and short term.
    We can turn this around to benefit everyone in our towns, counties,and state not just our people in the trades. In closing I urge you to look at the whole picture and together we can build bigger, better and stronger by using the best trained construction force in the country.

  36. Mr. ferretti couldn’t be more correct or clear on this issue. It’s criminal that local politicians allow said grievances to continously take place. Take pride in living and working in NJ, honor your constituents. It’s not hard to do the right thing

  37. +1 to this article and to all the spot on comments. Who benefits from this locally? I am a proud, thankful, local skilled union tradesman. This is an issue that needs a resolution that favors the local people who voted these constituents into office. Who with me knows the feelings of passing by a large commercial or industrial site and seeing these out
    of state contractors with their legal, illegal and indentured employees all while dealing with the different frustrations of unemployment. Have these leaders and representatives?
    Solidarity brothers
    Get out the vote and the word
    We can do better

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