In 2002, MZM Construction Company, Inc., began working on a project at the Newark Airport, Terminal C (the “Project”). After MZM had begun working at the Project, the New Jersey Building Laborers’ Union approached MZM’s president, Marjorie Perry, and required her to execute a single job short form agreement in order to remain on the Project. The Union representative, who Perry knew and trusted, was intimately aware that MZM would not be a full signatory to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and repeatedly advised MZM that its business was too small to be a full signatory. After MZM received the one-page short form single-job agreement, the Union confirmed to MZM that the one-page agreement was in fact a single-job agreement, and all sides operated under that presumption for more than 15 years, with MZM working a substantial amount of non-union jobs within the Union’s jurisdiction without any issues.
In 2018, the accountants for the New Jersey Building Laborers Statewide Benefit Funds (the “Funds”) requested access to MZM’s “books and records,” which MZM granted. This audit covered claimed contributions relating to work done between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2017. After completion of the audit, the Funds’ accountant told MZM that it owed contributions for work completed by non-union workers during that period. In response, MZM requested a copy of the document that the Funds’ accountant relied upon in claiming that fringe benefits were owed. The Funds’ accountant produced a copy of the 2002 short form agreement. Shortly thereafter, the Funds also provided MZM for the first time with a copy of a CBA covering a term beginning May 1, 2002, and ending April 30, 2007, with provision for automatic renewals. Prior to receiving this copy of the 2002 CBA in 2018, Perry had never before seen this or any other CBA to which MZM was allegedly a signatory.
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