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Male v. Ernest Renda Contracting Co.

Decided: February 21, 1973.

RAYMOND F. MALE, COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND CROSS-RESPONDENT,
v.
ERNEST RENDA CONTRACTING CO., INC., A CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND HILLSBOROUGH MUNICIPAL UTILITIES AUTHORITY, TOWNSHIP OF HILLSBOROUGH, COUNTY OF SOMERSET, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT AND CROSS-APPELLANT



Labrecque, Kolovsky and Matthews. The opinion of the court was delivered by Matthews, J.A.D.

Matthews

The Commissioner of Labor and Industry (Commissioner) instituted this action under N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.25 et seq. , the Prevailing Wage Act (act), in the interest of employees of defendant Ernest Renda Contracting Co., Inc. (Renda), who performed work on a public works project contracted for by defendant Municipal Utilities Authority of the Township of Hillsborough, Somerset County (Authority).

The complaint alleged that defendants failed to pay the prevailing wage to employees of Renda on the aforementioned public works project and otherwise failed to fulfill

the obligations under the act. The Commissioner sought judgment requiring defendants to pay to him, as trustee for the workmen involved, the difference between the amount actually paid to those workmen and the amount that should have been paid in compliance with the act. That amount was originally computed after preliminary audit at $3,288.64. Later, in August 1970, after the commencement of this action, the Commissioner caused an additional audit to be conducted which covered the entire period of the project which by then had been completed. The additional audit disclosed that the difference between the amount Renda's employees had actually been paid and the amount due under the prevailing wage schedule to be $57,685.16.

N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.25 et seq. was adopted in 1963. (L. 1963, c. 150). Section 1 of the act (N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.25) provides:

It is declared to be the public policy of this State to establish a prevailing wage level for workmen engaged in public works in order to safeguard their efficiency and general well being and to protect them as well as their employers from the effects of serious and unfair competition resulting from wage levels detrimental to efficiency and well-being.

Under section 2 (N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.26) certain terms as used in the act are defined. These include subsection (4), "public body":

(4) "Public body" means the State of New Jersey, any of its political subdivisions, except municipalities having a population of less than 25,000, any authority created by the Legislature of the State of New Jersey and any instrumentality or agency of the State of New Jersey or of any of its political subdivisions.

and subsection (9), "prevailing wage":

(9) "Prevailing wage" means the wage rate paid by virtue of collective bargaining agreements by employers employing a majority of workmen of that craft or trade subject to said collective bargaining agreements, in the locality in which the public work is done.

Under section 3 (N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.27) it is stated that the act applies to every contract in excess of $2,000 for any public work and that every contract covering such work must contain a provision setting forth the prevailing wage to be paid as the same has been established by the Commissioner.

Section 6 of the Act (N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.30) sets forth the method in which the Commissioner is to establish the prevailing wage rate in any locality. "Locality" is ...


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