Construction workers protesting stalemate on N.J. transportation funding

Originally appeared in

August 16, 2016

Six weeks ago, Ju-lee Tretter was a laborer on a road crew, repaving the Betsy Ross Bridge over the Delaware River. Five weeks ago, the state of New Jersey laid her off.

Now Tretter feeds her two children by visiting food pantries in three different towns. She couldn’t pay her August rent. Her landlord is angry, and he wants her to leave.

“Where am I going to go? I can’t pay him, and I don’t have money to move,” said Tretter, 43, of Ocean County. “I’m broke beyond broke.”

About three dozen construction workers with similar complaints protested Monday outside the offices of state Sens. Bob Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, and Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck. Others gathered in front of the local headquarters of Sens. Jim Whelan and Jeff Van Drew, both South Jersey Democrats. It was the first day of a larger protest campaign, which organizers said would target the office of every elected officeholder in the state, to pressure lawmakers to fix New Jersey’s broken transportation system by raising the gas tax.