Bringing Labor and Business Together to Build a Better New Jersey

Finding common ground and working on solutions to benefit the economy helps everyone.

There is a long-standing perception that labor and management line up on different sides of the field; that each group has a vastly different game plan. Many would have you believe that the relationship between the two parties is characterized by different values that ultimately lead to conflict. I believe there is nothing further from the truth. The solution lies in the ability to truly listen to our counterparts. 

Too often, when hearing the views of others, we immediately formulate a response in our head. Having the ability to clear our minds and truly process what is being said allows us to shift our focus away from what is important to us and navigate toward what is of value to others. We enter an arena where common ground becomes easier to find. Choose New Jersey and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) are two venues where this idea is alive and well.

IBEW Local 102 joined Choose New Jersey during its first year. I can confidently say I have found no better example of different groups working together toward a common goal. Michele Brown and her team at Choose New Jersey have assembled top leaders from all sectors: Fortune 500 companies, labor groups, associations and higher education institutions. Together, this group unselfishly works on behalf of the State of New Jersey, letting the world know we are open for business. Choose New Jersey joins three other entities within the Partnership for Action: the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Business Action Center, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. A champion for private-sector growth, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno heads up the Partnership for Action. This team saw New Jersey add 278,000 new private-sector jobs in 2016, while 100,000 businesses have started the process toward calling New Jersey home.

You may have noticed the ads being run jointly by Local 102 and NJBIA, trumpeting the working partnership between labor and business. I attribute this to two visionary leaders, Pat Delle Cava from Local 102 and Michele Siekerka at NJBIA. Their ability to join forces and forge pathways toward new ideas is refreshing. Any relationship begins with trust. I am certain that there were some raised eyebrows on both sides when Local 102 became the first union to join NJBIA. Michele Siekerka was willing to open the door, and what we enjoy now is a partnership that shares a commitment to making New Jersey fertile ground for business.

Local 102 is proud to be associated with these two great organizations. They exemplify the value of bringing all parties to the table, communicating and working together. It can be said that relationships are the foundation on which respect is built. Once you have those two things, resolutions become targets that are easier to hit.


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