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Gov. Christie’s political dilemma: Should unions control Hurricane Sandy money?

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Sandy ReliefThe New Jersey Senate voted along party lines Monday to require that Hurricane Sandy cleanup and reconstruction be carried out only by union workers.

The Labor Union Report points out that Steven Sweeney, the ironworkers union organizer who drafted the pro-union bill also happens to be the president of the New Jersey Senate. Conflict of interest?

This action is the latest in a series of clear contradictions to the direction President Barack Obama gave at a briefing with federal, state and local officials.

In a video conference just four days before the November election, Obama vowed he would not tolerate red tape and bureaucracy, adding, “There’s nothing more important than getting this right.”

“We still have a long way to go to make sure that the people of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and some of the surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of,” the president said, according to Reuters. “We don’t have patience for bureaucracy. We don’t have patience for red tape.”

Yet, again and again, delays have occurred as a result of unions protecting their monopoly in the state, like when non-union relief crews sent from Alabama to help restore power in the immediate aftermath of the storm were rejected by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The utility crews eventually returned home to Alabama, according to Fox Business.

Yet, the media remains quiet, and the White House gets a total pass — even though many pundits credit Obama’s strong reaction to Hurricane Sandy, as portrayed by the media, as a contributing factor to his electoral success.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is a unit of the powerful AFL-CIO, which is headed by Richard Trumpka. This is the same Richard Trumpka who once told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly: “I’m at the White House a couple times a week. Two, three times a week. I have conversations everyday with someone in the White House or in the administration. Every day.”

The Labor Union Report further notes that, according to Republican New Jersey Sen. Tom Kean Jr., a study conducted during Democratic Gov. John Corzine’s reign showed that union-only labor increases the costs on a project from 18 to 24 percent.

The bill now goes to the New Jersey Assembly. If it passes, it goes to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s desk, setting up an even more compelling drama.

Christie is up for re-election in 2014, and while he has not indicated whether he will sign or veto the legislation if it reaches his desk, his decision is certain to impact his chances of remaining in office.

The popular Republican governor, whose star power is beginning to wane, called out the GOP-led U.S. House for delaying passage of a pork-laden Sandy relief bill and has been a vocal critic of the National Rifle Association ad that referenced Obama’s daughters, calling it “reprehensible.”


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