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N.J. Democrats to push for paid sick time

Philadelphia Inquirer
June 16, 2014
Andrew Seidman
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TRENTON - New Jersey Democrats and labor activists are pushing to require private employers to provide paid leave for workers who are sick or who need to attend to loved ones with an illness.
About 38 percent of the state's private-sector workforce, or 1.2 million employees, do not have access to earned sick leave, according to a 2013 study by the Rutgers Center for Women and Work.

Democrats say that diminishes New Jersey's quality of life, but Republicans and business groups argue that new government regulations would stifle productivity and growth.

On Monday, top legislative and labor leaders say they will begin a campaign in Trenton to promote a bill that would mandate paid sick leave. Government employees already have the benefit.

"Look at cities like New York and San Francisco," said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D., Camden), a sponsor of the bill. Both cities require paid sick leave.

"I work in Philadelphia. I know Mayor Nutter is rethinking his position on sick time to look at quality of life," she said.

Nutter on Thursday said businesses in Philadelphia should give workers paid sick days. Newark and Jersey City recently enacted paid sick leave laws, and Connecticut has a statewide law.

NJ should require paid sick days for workers: Editorial

Star Ledger Editorial
April 16, 2014
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As Connecticut debated paid sick time in 2011, businesses cried poverty: Paying workers to stay home is expensive, they said. People will lose their jobs.

Two years later, that opposition has withered as business owners reported higher productivity and morale, and virtually no effect on their bottom line.

Lawmakers shouldn’t hesitate to make New Jersey the second state to mandate paid sick time. Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) have sponsored bills calling for the strongest sick-time law in the country, allowing workers to take time off for themselves or family members. No employer would be exempt, no matter how small.

The stronger law would apply to workers in Jersey City and Newark, which already passed local sick time laws during the past year, benefiting 68,000 workers. Nationwide, more than 2.1 million workers have won the right to take sick days in New York City, San Francisco and Washington.

Workers shouldn’t have to choose between staying home with a sick child or losing their job.
Paid time off for illness should be a basic right. Momentum is moving in that direction. Similar to raising the minimum wage, paid sick days help workers contribute more to the economy. For a typical low-income family, losing 3½ days’ pay to illness equals a month’s worth of groceries.

Letter: Give financial relief to family caregivers in New Jersey

South Jersey Times Letters
March 27, 2014
Jim Dieterle - State Director of AARP, Letter to the Editor
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To the Editor:

There are 1.75 million family caregivers in New Jersey who provide more than 1 billion hours of unpaid care each year to help an aging loved one live independently at home. Families are the bedrock of our long-term health care system.

While invaluable in myriad of ways, the value to our society of the hours of support being provided by family caregivers in monetary terms would equal $13 billion a year. However, caring for an older family member can create a financial strain for many families, who often spend thousands of out-of-pocket-dollars in the process of being caregivers. With the expected increase in our aging population, it is time to recognize the value of family caregivers and provide a little help.

AARP New Jersey commends Sen. Donald Norcross, D-5, of Camden, and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-6, of Cherry Hill, for their sponsorship of the Caregiver’s Assistance Act (S841). If enacted, the bill would provide a state income tax credit of up to $675 to income-eligible family caregivers who are caring for an aging relative living at home.

The bill passed the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on March 17, and we thank the committee’s chairman, Joseph Vitale, for posting and supporting it.

Opinion: Equal Pay Day in N.J. - Pay gap exists across all demographic lines

Times of Trenton
April 8, 2014
Laurel Brennan, Opinion
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For working women all across the state, today may feel just like another workday, but it’s actually much more. Today is Equal Pay Day.

Women on average are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues, according to a report by the American Association of University Women. Or, to put it a different way, women essentially work the first quarter of the calendar for free. If all workers got paid on a daily basis, men have been getting their wages in full since Jan 1. Women would only get their first paycheck today.

Nearly six decades after women began to assert themselves in the workplace, and after countless examples of women working at the same – if not higher – levels and standards as men, that we even need to commemorate Equal Pay Day is disappointing. Equal work should demand equal pay, regardless of race, gender or age. Unfortunately, the working world is still far from this ideal.

The pay gap exists across all demographic lines. Women of color make decidedly less than white men in the same occupations. Latinas, for example, are paid only 53 percent of what their white male counterparts make, the AAUW reports. An older woman will see the pay gap actually widen with age, as if experience in the workplace makes her less valuable to her employer.

NJ drivers support mandatory practice for teens, orientation class for parents, AAA survey says

Star Ledger
April 9, 2014
Steve Strunsky
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A survey by AAA of New Jersey found that most motorists support a mandatory 50 hours of practice for teens seeking a driver's license, and a requirement that their parents take a class informing them of permit restrictions.

The provisions supported in the survey mirror those in a bill now pending in the Assembly. The bill, A-1699, bill was reintroduced in January after having been approved by the Senate and Assembly two years earlier, but allowed to die by Gov. Chris Christie, who failed to sign it by the end of the legislative session in January 2012.

A spokesman for Christie said at the time that he took no action on the measure, a non-move known as a pocket veto, because it was among dozens of bills to land on the governor's desk during the session's eleventh hour that Christie did not wish to merely rubber stamp.

The survey of 1,000 motorists statewide taken in November 2013 found that 63 percent of respondents would "strongly support" and 17 percent would "somewhat support" what AAA defined as, "a new law in New Jersey that would require the teen to log 50 practice hours of driving before they obtain their driver's license."

“These results show that motorists believe these types of programs are critical to keeping teens safe on the roadways.”