Is illegal labor being used to build cemetery? Was there a conflict in the approval process?
Park Lawn Corporation, a publicly traded Canadian-owned funeral, crematorium, and cemetery company, recently started work on a 78-acre cemetery in Lafayette Township in Sussex County. Park Lawn is empire-building and doing so in one heck of a hurry. Since 2013, it has grown from six cemeteries in Toronto, Ontario, gobbling up other companies along the way. This new cemetery will be operated as part of Park Lawn's CMS Mid Atlantic subsidiary, which currently operates, manages and provides financial services for seven other cemeteries in New Jersey (6) and New York (1).
When local residents attempted to communicate their concerns to workers preparing the site, they faced a language barrier and were ignored. Sussex Watchdog did some digging and discovered that part of the acreage contains wetlands and that site preparation will be on-going for two years. Once in operation, the grounds will hold up to 30,000 corpses and is expected to be in operation for 200 years.
Based on the concerns expressed by local stakeholders during the approval process, good communications between residents and those preparing the site is essential, as potential problems with traffic, egress, parking, and water run-off were all expressed. There are also safety issues, as much of the heavily equipment being operated is potentially hazardous.
As of the posting of this column, Watchdog has not been able to determine if the company sub-contracted to do the work follows E-Verify protocols or hires workers who have had the benefits of a state-certified apprenticeship training program. Surprisingly, the Land Use Board of Lafayette Township failed to ascertain these important considerations before granting their approval. Again, this presents issues regarding safety as well as value for money. And if the workers are not properly trained or properly paid – if they are being exploited for profit – this robs local taxpayers in Lafayette Township and/or Sussex County of a potential source of income.
When undocumented immigrants illegally resident in New Jersey are exploited, it harms the immigrants, the taxpayers, and the American workers. It is an inhuman way to make a profit…
What Watchdog did find was a conflict-of-interest in the approval process. When one Land Use Board member properly reported that he was a “friend” of the engineer handling the project, the board attorney inexplicably allowed him to remain involved in the process and even vote on its approval. Perhaps the whole approval process should be re-evaluated and site preparation placed on hold pending said re-evaluation?
Once upon a time – back when Bill Clinton still had the memory of being a blue-collar boy from Arkansas – he and his party, the Democrat Party, understood illegal immigration. It was all about protecting American jobs and not exploiting the labor of illegal immigrants to suppress American wages. Now that the Clintons have become members of the One Percent – and the Democrat Party’s leadership is composed of Wall Street One Percenters like Jon Corzine and Phil Murphy – it is all about making a fashionable excuse for exploiting vulnerable immigrants who are here illegally.
We need mandatory E-Verify in New Jersey. And in a state that requires tree-trimmers to be certified, make sure all those employed in the trades hold apprenticeship certification. It makes sense for safety, for taxpayers, for American workers, and it protects those who are being exploited for profit.