Bloomfield Becomes 9th City In NJ To Pass Earned Sick Time Ordinance

7-0 vote of Township Council continues NJ's wave of municipal victories for earned sick time

PolitickerNJ — Monday, March 2, 2015

By Rob Duffey

Bloomfield — At an evening meeting, the Bloomfield Township Council unanimously passed a local law guaranteeing a worker's right to earn paid sick time, becoming the 9th city in New Jersey to do so. In 2014 seven New Jersey municipalities passed identical earned sick time laws. Advocates called it a victory for Bloomfield's working families and a sign of continued momentum for the issue as the Assembly prepares for a floor vote on a statewide bill.

"Earned sick leave is the right thing to do. It's an important issue facing working families and small business owners in Bloomfield," said Mayor Michael Venezia. "Our community is joining a list of municipalities that are standing with small business owners to protect the health and well being of our workforce."

Approximately 8,600 workers in Bloomfield can't currently earn sick time, according to estimates from the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University.

"Bloomfield is the first municipality to pass earned sick time in 2015, but it won't be the last," said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families. "Each local victory builds momentum for our ultimate goal of a statewide bill that guarantees earned sick time to the 1.2 million New Jerseyans who face a terrible choice between their job and their family's health when illness strikes."

Jersey City was the first city to pass an earned sick time law in September 2013. In 2014 five New Jersey municipal councils passed identical earned sick time laws, including Newark, East Orange, Irvington, Passaic, and Paterson. Voters in the City of Trenton and Montclair Township both approved earned sick time ordinances by overwhelming margins in the November 2014 elections. The string of municipal victories was hailed as "the biggest wave of paid sick day victories ever."

"In New Jersey, earned sick time is spreading faster than the flu," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action and spokesperson for the statewide Time to Care Coalition. "The recent wave of victories for earned sick time in city halls and at the ballot box proves that this is a policy with broad grassroots support. We hope the legislature is taking notice and will act quickly to put a statewide bill on Governor Christie's desk."

Over the last year New Jersey's wave of municipal victories have become a catalyst for statewide action. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has championed a statewide bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. The statewide earned sick time bill was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee and Assembly Budget Committee and now awaits a floor vote that could take place as as March.

"The workers who can't earn sick time tend to be the very people who need them the most," said Marcia Marley, President of BlueWave NJ. "They are predominantly low-wage workers already struggling to make ends meet. For these workers a cut in pay can be devastating. This law will give working families in Bloomfield the kind of basic economic security so many simply take for granted."

Bloomfield's earned sick time law is virtually identical to Newark's model ordinance. It will allow private-sector workers to earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Those that work in businesses with 10 or more employees can earn 5 paid sick days per year; workers in businesses with nine or fewer employees would be eligible to earn 3 paid sick days per year. In addition, employees directly in contact with the public, such as food service and daycare workers would be eligible to earn 5 sick days regardless of company size. The days can be used to care for themselves or for sick children, siblings, parents, grandparents or grandchildren.

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