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In a big win for workers across the state, a federal judge has allowed the Temp Workers’ Bill of Rights to take effect next week after staffing agencies and business lobbyists sued to stop it. The landmark law extends workplace protections to the roughly 127,000 temp workers in New Jersey and requires staffing agencies to pay temp workers the same wages and benefits that their full-time counterparts make. Until now, the temp industry remained largely unregulated, with agencies paying less than the minimum wage and subjecting their workers to unsafe conditions. In the court hearing, lawyers for the staffing agencies asked how they should calculate proper pay and benefits, insinuating it would be too hard given the many factors that determine pay. Here’s how US District Court Judge Christine O’Hearn responded: “By raising these questions, plaintiffs have given away the game: they are tacitly admitting that they know exactly the sort of relevant factors that ought to be considered.” Oof. [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Muñoz]
Take it from us, access to public data is an important part of the policymaking process. It allows researchers, reporters, lawmakers, and members of the public alike to identify trends, disparities, and opportunities for targeted policy solutions. The good news is that state lawmakers advance bills every session that mandate public reporting of all sorts of data. The bad news? A lot of these mandated reports are never released, and even when they are, they are often late or fall short of what the law requires. “It’s hard to know, externally, whether something is a capacity problem, a willpower problem, or a funding problem,” said NJPP’s Peter Chen, who also noted that state agencies and departments have far fewer staff members today than twenty years ago. [NJ Monitor / Dana DiFilippo]
While the 13th Amendment ended slavery in the United States, it still allows for involuntary servitude “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” There is pending legislation to change that in New Jersey, but the proposal has yet to receive a hearing in the Legislature. “There is no justification for this modern-day slavery,” said NJPP’s Marleina Ubel. “We have to remember that these are human beings with families and communities and futures. Being incarcerated shouldn’t change anyone’s right to work with dignity, fair pay, safe conditions, and freedom from coercion.” [NorthJersey.com / Katie Sobko]
Earlier this week, Senator Bob Menendez condemned the Biden administration for supporting a private prison’s lawsuit challenging New Jersey’s ban on immigrant detention contracts. Unless a federal judge stops New Jersey from enforcing its law, CoreCivic’s contract with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will expire at the end of August. “I think these private detention facilities are fundamentally wrong,” said Senator Menendez, who has raised concerns about the private prison in Elizabeth since the 1990s. “I don’t think they uphold high standards.” [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Muñoz]
In an op-ed that ran in The Record earlier this week, NJPP’s Alex Ambrose and Jaqi Cohen of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign outline all the ways congestion pricing will benefit residents of New Jersey and New York alike. They also brought facts to the debate, highlighting how an outstanding majority of New Jersey commuters take public transit into Manhattan. These points were echoed by Charles Stile in a column that ran the following day. [NorthJersey.com / Alex Ambrose and Jacqi Cohen]
Pets of NJPP
Say hello to Alex’s cat, Triscuit, seen here supervising the construction of a new cat tower. Meow!
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