A bill to boost pay and protections for New Jersey’s temp workers faced another delay Monday after it was pulled for the second time from a final state Senate vote.
Immigrant and labor groups have pushed hard for the bill, a version of which already passed both legislative chambers before Gov. Phil Murphy sent it back to the Legislature with a conditional veto. But the latest iteration of the measure — which meets Murphy’s request to add a funding mechanism to ensure enforcement of new regulations — has stalled in the Senate, as lobbying from staffing agencies and business groups ramped up in recent months.
On Monday, the bill, which needs 21 votes to pass, didn’t have enough support after Senate President Nick Scutari ended a remote voting option for lawmakers sick with COVID. Make the Road New Jersey, one of bill’s loudest proponents, said a state senator who supported the measure tested positive for COVID and couldn’t vote in person. Two Democratic lawmakers who previously supported the bill also dropped their support last month.
After hearing the bill was pulled from the floor again Monday, dozens of temp workers and union leaders led chants in the Statehouse hallways as advocates urged lawmakers’ support.
“Equal pay for equal work has been a rallying cry for the League of Women voters since our founding, and we are determined to continue working for economic equity and justice,” Jesse Burns, executive director for the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, said in a statement.
Temp agencies have said the new rules could hurt their business and leave workers without jobs.
At a meeting last week, at least one business belonging to the New Jersey Staffing Alliance said it would give its employees two hours to call and email senators to pull their support for the bill. A recording of the call was obtained by Gothamist.
“I’m frustrated at the amount of money that these agencies that continue to abuse workers are throwing against it and still having some sort of validating when the reality is they’re just paying to keep their abusive practices around,” bill sponsor Sen. Joe Cryan (D-Union) said in an interview after the bill was pulled.
The New Jersey Staffing Alliance, in a statement Tuesday, credited its own lobbying and that of staffing agencies for getting the vote pulled once again. It said the repeated tabling of the bill showed "there are still major areas within the bill that need to be improved."
"Once again NJSA welcomes the opportunity to work with the appropriate parties to produce a different piece of legislation that contains several provisions found in [the bill] that protect temporary employees but presents fewer operational issues for staffing agencies," it said.
The temp worker bill would require staffing agencies to pay their temp workers the same wages that permanent workers at third-party sites receive; the NJSA has said that's not possible because employers at those sites often don't disclose wages. It would also require agencies to tell workers basic information about the site, including the name of the employer and the pay rate.
Murphy would likely sign the measure if it reaches his desk. The next Senate session takes place in December.
This story has been updated to reflect a statement from the New Jersey Staffing Alliance.