The Senate again suspends the vote on the bill expanding the rights of temporary workers

Another attempt to advance a bill extending the rights of temporary workers fell through on Monday when the Senate leadership withdrew the bill from the voting session, prompting howls of protest from immigrant activists who were later expelled from Senate chambers.

It was the second time in about a month that a vote on the measurement was postponed moments before it was scheduled to go to the vote. Senate Speaker Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) told reporters there were not enough affirmative votes for the bill to pass Monday.

Immigrant groups who lobbied for the bill’s passage — they rallied outside the Statehouse ahead of the Senate voting session — expressed dismay.

Rosa, a Newark temp worker who asked not to use her last name for fear of reprisal, said in Spanish after being kicked out of the chambers that the Senate’s inaction “just isn’t fair.”

“It’s an injustice, it’s not fair, and they can’t keep doing this to us,” she said. “We deserve protections like anyone else with a job.”

Monday’s postponed vote was the final speed bump on the bill, which passed both houses in June but required a new vote due to a procedural error. It was then sent to Governor Phil Murphy, who vetoed the bill conditionally in September, returning it to the Legislative Assembly with suggested changes. In October, a revised version of the measure was removed from the Senate agenda after failing to get enough votes for passage, in part because some senators were sick and others said they no longer supported it.

The bill with the changes suggested by Murphy was passed by the Assembly on October 3.

At least two lawmakers also weren’t in attendance Monday, including the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex).

Scutari told reporters he plans to republish the bill during the next voting session on Dec. 22.

Democrats hold a 24-16 majority in the Senate, but the legislation needs 21 votes to move forward. It passed with 21 votes in August, before Murphy’s veto.

New Jersey has about 127,000 temporary workers, many of whom are constantly employed by the same companies as “perma-timers,” but don’t receive the same pay, benefits, or protections as employees.

The bill would require temporary workers to receive wages and benefits equivalent to those of traditional workers, prevent recruitment agencies from deducting transportation costs from workers’ paychecks, and require better record keeping to reduce costs. labor violations. Placement agencies would also be required to provide advance notice of assignment, including terms such as rate of pay, hours, length of assignment, length of sick leave, and health and security.

Sen. Joe Cryan, the bill’s sponsor, appeared disappointed on Monday but said he remained confident the bill would cross the finish line.

“We’re going to fight for this bill and it will eventually pass no matter how much money and these agencies are trying to stop it,” said Cryan, a Union County Democrat.

After Murphy vetoed the bill, business groups stepped up their efforts to lobby against it, saying the legislation would be nearly impossible to implement and could drive some recruitment agencies out of business. . They say the requirement that temporary workers receive the average rate of pay and cash equivalent of their permanent counterparts is a “key and onerous provision”.

This will “greatly compromise legitimate temp agencies, hurt third-party companies that use them at a time of great labor challenges, and provide fewer opportunities for those seeking temporary unemployment,” said Alexis Bailey of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

Make the Road New Jersey, an immigrant and labor rights organization that lobbied for the bill’s passage, lambasted the Senate leadership for failing to provide protections for temporary workers.

“Now is not the time to give up on temps. Not passing this bill is simply saying that temporary workers are disposable and that commercial interests are more important than our own humanity as workers,” said Reynalda Cruz, New Labor organizer and former temporary worker.

Janeth Caicedo, who testified before Congress last week about her brother – a temporary worker who was killed at her job site in 2019 when a forklift crushed his skull – called the Senate’s decision to delay to again the vote of “dishonor to many lives”. we lost” in a statement from Make the Road.

In September, four temp workers were killed after a van overturned in Englewood Cliffs while transporting workers from their shift to a warehouse in Chester, New York.

Ahead of Monday’s Senate session, more than 20 advocacy groups and unions wrote a letter to Murphy and Senate leaders calling on them to move the measure forward.

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