Bill offering protections for temp workers fails to get Senate vote for third time
Temporary workers and advocates rallied outside the Statehouse in Trenton on Dec. 19, 2022, to urge support for a bill that would provide protections to temporary workers. (Courtesy of Make the Road New Jersey)
Angered by the news that a bill to protect temporary workers would not get a vote in the state Senate Monday, temporary workers and their advocates gathered outside the Statehouse and chanted, “Aqui estamos, y no nos vamos.”
“We are here, and we’re not leaving.”
Monday marked the third time the legislation (S511) was pulled from consideration in the Senate when it became clear it did not have enough votes to pass. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joe Cryan (D-Union), pledged to the crowd of workers and their advocates that it will get the 21 votes needed for passage.
“We’re at 20 today, not 21, again. Trust me, we are going to get this bill done,” Cryan said.
The measure would offer a slew of protections to temporary workers, who say they often end up in “perma-temp” jobs where they continually work for the same employer, but for less money than the employer’s full-time staff. The bill would also force staffing agencies to provide equivalent health benefits as full-time employees doing the same work.
Staffing agencies are lobbying against the bill, and were present in the halls of the Statehouse Monday afternoon while activists outside held signs and chanted, “Immigrants make, Trenton takes!” The bill’s critics say its regulations would be impossible to adhere to and would put some agencies out of business.
“We’re still here, and we’re going to keep fighting because this bill has to pass,” said Reynalda Cruz, an organizer with New Labor. “We’re the ones who are here, living through these jobs, and these lawmakers may not know what it’s like.”
Supporters of the bill have struggled to get it across the finish line. An earlier version of it passed both chambers of the Legislature but was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The Assembly in October passed the bill with Murphy’s recommended changes, while Senate leaders have struggled with absences and defections.
Two Democrats — Sens. Sandra B. Cunningham and Linda Greenstein — were not in attendance Monday, and at least two others have said they plan to abstain or vote against the bill (Democrats hold 24 seats in the chamber).
The Senate does not have another voting session scheduled until Feb. 2.
Dozens of the bill’s supporters said they missed a day of work to brave Monday’s cold and rally outside the Statehouse prior to the Senate’s voting session. Organizers urged workers to keep reaching out to lawmakers during the holidays.
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