NJBIA is opposing a bill that would allow labor unions to file wage claim suits on behalf of their own workers and workers unaffiliated with a union against an employer for unpaid wages.
Bill S-1438 (Singleton, D-7) advanced in the Senate Labor Committee on Thursday.
Under current law, the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Department and a joint labor-management committee can already file suits on behalf of workers alleging owed unpaid wages.
“This legislation will essentially allow labor unions to act in the place of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce by bringing forward wage and hour violation suits on behalf of workers that they do not represent,” NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey told the committee.
“NJBIA opposes allowing private union entities to take on this enforcement power through lawsuits against contractors on behalf of workers that they are not at all connected to. It does not make sense for entities to weigh in on behalf of workers that have not chosen to be part of the union and may actually object to the union’s intervention on their behalf.”
Bailey also notes that language of the bill allows plaintiffs to recover attorney fees and costs, which will “incentivize attorneys to seek out union clients that can bring forth wage claim suits against a vast number of contractors and subcontractors.”
As an alternative to the legislation, Bailey encouraged the Legislature to look at ways to enhance DOL’s enforcement capabilities.
“DOL is uniquely situated to use unbiased discretion to address wage and hour violations,” she said. “That is why it is the role of the Department, not private unions, to enforce our state wage and hour laws.”