NJBIA’s Employment and Labor Policy Committee recently held a virtual meeting this week with state Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-16) and Brian Walsh, director of labor and employment for the National Association of Manufacturing, to discuss labor policy currently impacting the business community and how they are being tackled on both the state and federal levels.
Zwicker, who serves on the Senate Labor Committee, discussed his priorities in advanced manufacturing, promoting new forms of fusion energy, and growth in apprenticeship programs opportunities in New Jersey as well as addressing data privacy issues, which all fall under the umbrella of workforce development and innovation.
He also expressed the need to bring back the state Department of Commerce to provide businesses with a seat at the table in the Governor’s cabinet.
The New Jersey Legislature recently passed the FY23 budget, where the state saw an unprecedented amount of surplus funds. Zwicker stressed the importance of the state being thoughtful about how these funds are spent.
He reiterated his support for using some of this money to replenish the unemployment insurance trust fund to offset the tax increase impacting businesses as a result of the pandemic.
NJBIA continues to advocate for the passage of A-3683/A-2152/S-733/S-2378 (Freiman/Greenwald/Madden/Gopal) which would offset the $1 billion unemployment insurance tax increase currently facing businesses.
Additionally, Walsh provided insight into federal labor issues that businesses should stay aware of.
He tackled issues regarding workplace health and safety, and how conflicting guidance from the CDC and OSHA are making it difficult for employers to maintain safe workplaces and compliance with federal COVID-19 protocols.
Walsh addressed unionization-related decisions being addressed by the National Labor Relations Board and trends in unionization more broadly. He explained that outside of the unionization stories making the headlines, unionization is not on the rise broadly speaking across industries.
In addition to the remarks of both Sen. Zwicker and Walsh, NJBIA Director of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey reported on several labor and employment bills that recently moved through the Legislature and ones that the business community should keep an eye out for in the fall.
She highlighted the passage of the A-4222/S-2796 (Freiman/Gopal) which was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in July. NJBIA was the leading organization advocating in support of this legislation to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work up to 50 hours during the summer months and modernize the working paper process.
Additionally, Bailey highlighted NJBIA’s opposition to A-1474/S-511 (Lopez/Cryan) which seeks to create additional protections for temporary workers. However, this legislation increases liability for third-party companies utilizing temporary workers and would mandate that temps receive the same wages and benefits as their equivalent, permanent employee counterpart.
After narrowly passing a revote of 21-15 this week, the bill is now on Gov. Murphy’s desk.
Bailey stressed the importance of monitoring upcoming legislation such as S-2389, sponsored by Sen. Troy Singleton (D-7) which would mandate the retention of service employees across a wide range of covered employers after the change of ownership of any service contract by a business.
Another bill to monitor this fall is the restrictive covenant legislation, A-3715/S-1410, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-20) and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4).
This bill would limit the ability of employers to use restrictive covenants on their workforce to protect their proprietary information and legitimate business interests. She also mentioned that businesses should be aware of A-4285 (Timberlake) which would require employers to include salary range and benefit information on all new job postings.
Lastly, Bailey mentioned the recently updated regulations from the Division of Civil Rights updating the LAD and NJFLA “Know Your Rights” poster requirements for employers, health care providers and other places of accommodation.