BILLS IN THE LEGISLATURE
S1717. Introduced 3/17/2014 by Sen. Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex). Prohibits adverse actions against employees who do not get to work due to a state of emergency. The bill was approved by the Senate Labor Committee on September 15. See more.
S1896. Introduced 3/24/2014 by Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union). Legalizes small amounts of marijuana, similar to Colorado law. Gov. Christie has said he is opposed to legalization, so this measure is probably a non-starter.
S280 / A1090. Senate bill introduced 1/14/2014 by Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). This legislation would make employers responsible for preventing workplace bullying. It is supported by a national coalition that has had similar bills introduced in various state legislatures. The same bill has been introduced in three previous sessions of the New Jersey Legislature, without success. A companion bill has also been introduced in the Assembly.
S785 / A2354. Senate Bill Introduced 1/14/2014 by Sen. Loretta Weinberg. The bill would require employers to provide their employees with at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work. It is strongly backed by the New Jersey AFL-CIO.
CURRENT POLITICAL ISSUES
Pension and Health Benefits. Along with failing to pay $2.4 million in required pension funding, Governor Christie is again saying that public employee benefits need further "reform"—by which he means further cuts. The Governor has been delivering this message in various town hall meetings using "no pain, no gain" as a theme. On August 1 he issued an Executive Order creating a bipartisan New Jersey Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission to examine public employee benefits and make recommendations. Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto immediately responded to the Governor's announcement by pointing out that the problems with the pension system would eventually be resolved if the Governor would obey the law and make the required contributions. Nine members of the commission have been appointed, all from the corporate world. It is widely expected that they will recommend more cuts in benefits.
Civil Service Broad-Banding. On June 16, the Legislature passed a joint resolution (SCR116) disapproving Civil Service rules that would authorize "job-banding" in state government. CWA and other unions oppose the new rules because objective tests would no longer be used when employees are advanced to higher positions within a band. This in turn would open the doors to favoritism and patronage in making promotions. The Legislature can invalidate the rules if the Civil Service Commission does not withdraw or amend them within 30 days. A previous rule proposal that would have extended job banding to local government was dropped several months ago.
Although Governor Christie has so far avoided paying a required $2.43 million in pension contributions this year and next, CWA and other unions are continuing their lawsuits. Read more >>>
The recent decision by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn has prompted questions about the impact of the case on public employees and the labor movement. The short answer is that it has no significant impact on most public employees or on their union representation. What it does is to exempt a relatively small but growing group of employees from paying representation fees to a union, thus allowing them to become "free riders." Read more >>>
Updated September 16, 2014. Stressed out over commuting to work on snow days? Senator Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex) has introduced a bill in the New Jersey Legislature that would protect most employees from punishment if they are unable to get to work due to a declared state of emergency. Read more >>>
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