January 6, 2017 In The News

Congressman Norcross appointed to House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Donald Norcross (NJ-01) has been appointed to serve on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. A lifelong union member himself, Norcross requested to serve on the committee to represent New Jersey labor and working families. Norcross is expected to be the only member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to serve on the committee.

“It’s an honor to represent New Jersey’s working families on the Education and Workforce Committee. This is a continuation of my lifelong fight to defend hard working men and women and make certain that every person has the dignity of a good paying job,” Norcross said. “I’ve built bridges and buildings across South Jersey, and now I’m working to build bridges in Washington — by working with both sides of the aisle to fight for policies that put American workers first.”

An International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) member and electrician by trade, Norcross has a long history of fighting for workers in South Jersey. He served as business agent, where he fought day in and day out to ensure workers had jobs, as an assistant business manager for IBEW Local 351 and as president of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO. In the state legislature, he led the fight to make college more affordable and expanded access to higher education in South Jersey by creating partnerships with community colleges and state universities.

And in his first term in Congress, Norcross has built a reputation as a national leader on labor issues. He introduced legislation that would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, fought the Trans-Pacific Partnership and formed the bipartisan Building Trades Caucus, which is bringing Republicans and Democrats together to educate members on the unique nature on policies that affect the building trades.   

“The American people have made it clear they stand against free trade deals that trade good jobs for bad ones — or no jobs at all. Now is the time for Congress and the new administration to focus on creating jobs, raising wages and re-negotiating NAFTA. We need trade deals that are fair to workers — not free giveaways to corporations and other countries,” Norcross said. “It’s also a priority that we fight for worker’s safety, paid leave and equal pay for women.”

Norcross, who graduated from a community college and trained in a skilled apprenticeship program, said he would also use his position on the committee to advocate for expanding affordable higher education opportunities.

“My path to Congress began at a Camden County Community College and in an IBEW apprenticeship program,” Norcross said. “On the committee, I’m going to make it my mission

to support affordable education alternatives, including access to county colleges and apprenticeship programs. We must invest now in preparing the next generation of tradesmen and women to fulfill tomorrow’s jobs.”

But he adds, “I don’t think I’m viewed [negatively] by people I meet with, the people I work with. They understand who I am.”

Indeed, people I know and respect admire Norcross for being a quick study with a hands-on approach.

At one neighborhood construction project in Camden County, Norcross pitched in for more than an hour. Not for the cameras – the news media weren’t present – but because “I love being out there with the folks,” he says.

Norcross also has become a champion of saving the Hugg-Harrison-Glover house, a Colonial-era structure in the realignment path of Route 42 and I-295.

His high-profile advocacy has spurred official recognition of the historical significance of the house, and has helped build momentum for its possible relocation.

Personable, if a tad wary, Norcross is indeed somewhat difficult to peg, politically. He describes himself as an environmentalist, with a particular interest in the Delaware River, and is a marriage equality supporter and staunch backer of Israel.

A member of the House Armed Services Committee, he’s also a consistent advocate for military veterans – one of several issues where he sees himself working with president-elect Trump.

“I want him to succeed. If we start moving forward, and we’re keeping our country and our world safe, that’s good news,” Norcross says.

“But if he looks to privatizing Medicare, you’re going to see me do whatever I can to stop that.”

A member of the House task force on opioids, Norcross worries that Trump’s vows to abolish the Affordable Care Act (“where’s the plan to replace it?”) could lead to less treatment availability in the midst of the nation’s heroin epidemic.

“Just doing away with Obamacare isn’t a win,” he says. “It’s a huge loss for our country.”