Carol Murphy Anthony Verrelli

Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mount Laurel) addresses the New Jersey State Assembly on June 21, 2021. (Photo: NJ Globe).

New Jersey labor unions are owed as much as $57 million from the government of Peru after stiffing their pension funds on unpaid Agrarian Reform Bonds, and now Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mount Laurel) is on their case.

A resolution sponsored by Murphy passed with bi-partisan support today urging the U.S. Trade Representative to take remedial actions.

“For decades, a financial dispute within the Peruvian government has impacted American pension funds and directly impacts the economic security of working men and women,” Murphy said.  Nationally this totals billions of dollars and approximately eighty million in New Jersey.”

Peru’s failure to pay off the ponds affects the retirement of about 72,000 New Jersey union members, according to the New Jersey AFL-CIO.  The United Food and Commercial Workers ($17 million), the Carpenters Fund ($17 million), the Operating Engineers Fund ($15 million), the Teamsters ($6 million), and the Bricklayers Pension Fund ($1 million) are among the unions truing to collect from Peru.

“I’ve spoken directly to the senior officials with the United States Trade Representative and been in communications with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs requesting the United States to hold Peru accountable and re-examine this free trade agreement because Peru is putting the economic security of American families at risk,” Murphy said.

Peru’s refusal to uphold the bond deal puts them in violation of a 2006 Free Trade Agreement,  the New Jersey AFL-CIO has said.

“The United States House of Representatives has seen a bipartisan effort with more than 70 members across the aisle sponsoring a resolution (US HR289) including 9 members from New Jersey, we are on the cusp of sending a bold and powerful message to the United States Trade Representative and Secretary of State that the time to act is now to protect the economic security of American families,” said Murphy, a two-term Democratic lawmaker from Burlington County.

In Congress, House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Chairman Albio Sires has pushed for Peru to be found in violation of the trade agreement.