In Our Community

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill to Enhance Workplace Democracy Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty designed to ensure labor unions are able to carry out their duties by having access to and being able to communicate with the employees they represent was signed into law by the Governor on Friday.

The Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act (A-3686) requires public employers to provide exclusive representative employee organizations with access to members of the negotiation units. The rights of the organization to access required by the law include:

· the right to meet with individual employees on the premises of the public employer, during the work day, to investigate and discuss grievances, workplace-related complaints, and other workplace issues;

· the right to conduct worksite meetings during lunch and other non-work breaks, and before and after the workday to discuss workplace issues, collective negotiations, the administration of collective negotiation agreements, other matters related to the duties of the organization, and internal union matters involving the governance or business of the organization; and

· the right to meet with newly hired employees, without charge to the pay or leave time of the employees, for a minimum of 30 and maximum of 120 minutes, within 30 calendar days from the date of hire of each employee, during new employee orientations, or if the employer does not conduct new employee orientations, at individual or group meetings.

The law grants employee organizations the right to use the public employer email systems to communicate with their members, and government buildings to meet with their members, regarding negotiations and administration of collective negotiation agreements, grievances and other workplace-related complaints and issues, along with internal organization matters, noted the sponsors.

The measure also prohibits a public employer from encouraging employees to resign, relinquish membership in an employee organization, or revoke authorization of the deduction of fees to an employee organization, or encouraging or discouraging employees from joining, forming or assisting an employee organization. Violations are regarded as an unfair practice, and, upon finding that the violation has occurred, the Public Employment Relations Commission is directed to order the public employer to make whole the employee organization for any losses suffered by the organization as a result of the unfair practice.

This piece of legislation creates a fair and just workplace for both union members and their representatives. It encourages conversation and negotiation, which gives all members a seat at the table in terms of their contracts and membership.

Finally, the law will modify the procedures for an employee to withdraw authorization for payroll deduction or fees to employee organizations. An employee may do so by providing well written notice to their public employer during the 10 days following each anniversary date of the employee’s employment, and the public employer is then required to inform the employee organization of the withdrawal – which would take effect on the 30th day after the anniversary date.

A pending United States Supreme Court case decision could potentially cause a significant drop in union members and loss of revenue. This law is designed to ensure that employee organizations which are the exclusive representatives of public employees in collective negotiations are able to carry out their statutory duties by having access to and being able to communicate with the employees they represent, noted the sponsors.

Assembly Dem-Sponsored Bills Protecting Internet Users’ Privacy Clears Assembly Panel

Two consumer protections bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson, Paul Moriarty, Joann Downey, and Wayne DeAngelo to prohibit Internet service providers from selling or otherwise disclosing a subscriber’s online browsing history and personal information and requiring commercial websites and online service operators to post privacy policy advanced in the Assembly on Thursday.

“In today’s world, using the Internet is essential to everyday life, which means that Internet service providers have unparalleled access to a great deal of information about their subscribers’ highly personal habits, preferences, even medical issues,” said Zwicker. (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset) “That private data should not be up for sale to the highest bidder without subscribers’ knowledge or consent.¨

The bill (A-1527) would require internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to keep their subscribers’ personally identifiable information confidential, unless a subscriber expressly authorizes the ISP to disclose the information. The legislation comes after President Donald Trump signed legislation last May rescinding Federal Communications Commission protections intended to prohibit ISPs from selling their subscribers’ personal data.

“We are excited that technology is advancing but the fundamental principle that consumers have a right to privacy over their information should not be compromised,¨ said Benson (D- Mercer/Middlesex). “It is more important than ever to ensure that consumers know that their personal information is confidential and that they are protected from the potential harm caused by unpermitted disclosure.¨

New Jersey joins more than a dozen other states with similar bills since the federal privacy protections rollback in early April.

“Mostly everything that we do these days, we do online, from organizing our households to personal shopping,¨ said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “This information should be private and not for sale. A consumer deserves their right to privacy online.¨

“Securing a person’s online privacy beyond their financial information is extremely important to protecting their online presence in this digital age,¨ said Downey (D-Monmouth). “There’s only so much a consumer can do on their end to protect their personal information online. By requiring websites and online providers to strengthen their privacy policies, we strengthen protections for online consumers.¨
“Many consumers are unaware that their information is being sold to other companies for marketing purposes,¨ said DeAngelo (Mercer/Middlesex). “Sharing or selling this information makes it susceptible to online hacking allowing this information to land in the wrong hands in general. Prohibiting internet service providers from selling this information protects consumers.”

The measure defines “personally identifiable information¨ as any information that personally identifies, describes or is able to be associated with a subscriber or users of a subscriber’s account, including, but not limited to:

  • name, address, precise geolocation, Social Security number or telephone number;
  • requests for specific materials or services from an ISP;
  • Internet protocol (IP) addresses or information concerning the access or use of online services;
  • information identifying a device used primarily or exclusively by the subscriber or users of the subscriber’s account;
  • financial or billing information;
  • demographic data;
  • medical information;
  • browser cache or history;
  • the contents of a subscriber’s communications or data-storage devices; or
  • any information pertaining to children.

Under the legislation, subscribers who wish to disclose their information must declare so using a form separate from their contract for Internet service. An ISP would be required to provide written notice of this requirement to each subscriber upon his or her first applying for service and when the subscriber renews a contract for service. The subscriber may revoke, in writing, the authorization at any time.

The measure states that there shall be no penalty, either financially or in the quality or speed of delivery of service, for a subscriber prohibiting an ISP from disclosing his or her information.

A second bill (A-3923) sponsored by Zwicker – requires commercial Internet website and online service operators to conspicuously post their privacy policy. This includes but is not limited to:

1) the categories of personally identifiable information that the operator collects through the Internet website or online service about individual customers who visit its commercial Internet website or online service and the categories of third-party persons or entities with whom the operator may share that personally identifiable information.

2) If offered by an operator, a description of the process by which a customer who uses or visits a commercial Internet website or online service may review and request changes to any of the customer’s personally identifiable information that is collected through the commercial Internet website or online service;

3) a description of the process by which the operator notifies customers who use or visit its commercial Internet website or online service of material changes to the operator’s privacy policy for that commercial Internet website or online service;

4) the effective date of the privacy policy;

5) disclosure of how the operator responds to Internet web browser “do not track” settings or other mechanisms that provide customers the ability to exercise choice concerning the collection of personally identifiable information about an individual customer’s online activities over time and across third-party Internet websites or online services; and

6) disclosure of whether third parties may collect, purchase, or access personally identifiable information about an individual customer’s online activities over time and across different Internet websites when a customer uses the operator’s commercial Internet website or online service.

“In recent months, we’ve seen how our personal data can be harvested, sold, and even used against us, or to subvert our public discourse, all without our knowledge. In the wake of the shocking revelations about how Facebook and Cambridge Analytica misused our personal data, many people, myself included, have decided to change their privacy settings and take back control over how websites use our information,¨ Zwicker said. “But what we’ve learned is that it’s not an easy, user-friendly process. In fact, just finding a website’s privacy policy is like searching for buried treasure.¨

Zwicker said his bill is an important step towards fixing that. By requiring that online providers’ privacy policies are clear and easy to find for any consumer, the bill will protect internet users, and allow consumers to make informed choices about safeguarding their personal data.

Both bills were approved by the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee and are now poised for an Assembly floor vote.

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill to Strengthen Anti-Nepotism Rules in School Districts Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty to extend anti-nepotism rules to the state’s public and charter schools was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.

Property taxpayers deserve every assurance that the people charged with educating their children attained their positions because of what they know, not who they know. With schools making up the majority of local property tax bills, we need to ensure that we are investing in the absolute best candidates to lead our schools.

The bill (A-557) would direct boards of education of school districts and county vocational school districts to adopt and implement a nepotism policy. The adoption of such a policy would be a condition for the receipt of state aid.

The nepotism policy must include, but need not be limited to, the following:

  • provision prohibiting any relative of a school board member or chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney or director of personnel from being employed in any office or position in the district. However, such a person employed by the district on the effective date of the policy or the date a relative becomes a school board member or administrator will not be prohibited from continuing to be employed in his current position or, in the case of a reduction in force, in any position to which the person has a legal entitlement. The policy may also provide that the district may seek approval from the executive county superintendent of schools to promote such an existing employee under certain circumstances;
  • provision prohibiting a chief school administrator from recommending to the school board any relative of a school board member or chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney, or director of personnel.
  • provision prohibiting a district administrator who has a relative who is a member of the bargaining unit from discussing or voting on the proposed collective bargaining agreement with that unit or from participating in any way in negotiations;
  • provision prohibiting a district administrator who has a relative who is a member of the same statewide union from participating in any way in negotiations prior to the school board attaining a tentative memorandum of agreement with the bargaining unit; and
  • provision prohibiting a district administrator who has a relative who is a member of the same statewide union in another district from participating in anyway in negotiations.

The bill also directs the board of trustees of a charter school to adopt and implement a nepotism policy. The policy adopted by a board of trustees must incorporate the above provisions and will be applicable to members of the board and to charter school administrators.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee.

Assemblyman Moriarty Bill Allowing Parents or Guardians to Place Security Freeze on Child’s Consumer Report Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty authorizing a parent or legal guardian to place a security freeze on a child’s consumer report cleared the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on Monday.

The bill (A-1096) provides that a security freeze is to remain in place until the protected consumer’s parent or legal guardian requests that the security freeze be removed or the protected consumer reaches 18 years of age.

A credit freeze restricts the access to a consumer’s credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new financial accounts in the consumer’s name. A credit freeze is the single most effective way to protect against fraud.

When children turn 18, or when their parents or guardians want to help them take an important step towards adulthood and establish credit history, they should not have to discover that they, in fact, do have credit history and debt, established by someone else under their name. This is merely a bill about fairness.

According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research Group, 1 in 40 families with children under 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised. The study also found that children’s identities are those most likely to be stolen.

If passed, New Jersey would be the 30th state to establish such a law.

Assemblyman Moriarty Earned Sick Leave Bill Signed into Law

Legislation Assembly Democrat Paul Moriarty sponsored to require employers to provide earned sick leave to workers in New Jersey was signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday.

The law (A-1827) will allow workers to accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

An estimated 1.1 million New Jerseyans are unable to earn sick leave, with nearly one-quarter of American adults reporting they’ve lost a job or been threatened with job loss for taking time off due to illness or to care for a sick child or relative, noted the sponsors.

The law will require each employer to provide earned sick leave to each employee it employs in the state. The employee accrues one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Unless the employee accrued earned sick leave prior to the effective date of this act, the leave accrues beginning on the effective date if the employee was hired prior to that time and the employee shall be able to use the leave time beginning on the 120th day after his/her hire. For employees hired after the effective date of this act, the earned sick leave shall begin to accrue upon the date of hire and the employee shall be eligible to use the time beginning on the 90th day after hiring.

Paid sick leave will simply create a healthier environment throughout our state for both employees and consumers. “This law enables workers to take the time to better themselves without the worries of losing their job or spreading illnesses to others.

The employer is required to pay the employee for earned sick leave at the same rate with the same benefits as the employee normally earns.
Earned sick leave may be used for:

· Time needed for diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or for preventive medical care for the employee;
· Time needed for the employee to care for a family member during diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, the family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or preventive medical care for the family member;
· Absence needed due to circumstances resulting from the employee or a family member being a victim of domestic violence, if the leave is to obtain medical attention, counseling, relocation, legal or other services;
· Time during which the employee is not able to work because of a closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of a child of the employee as a result of a determination that the presence in the community of the employee, or a member of the employee’s family in need of care by the employee, would jeopardize the health of others, or;
· Time needed by the employee in connection with a child of the employee to attend a school related conference, meeting, function, or other event or required by a school professional staff member.

The law prohibits retaliatory personnel actions against an employee for the use or requested use of earned sick leave or for filing of a complaint for an employer violation.

This law will also create statewide uniform floor or mandated earned sick leave. Employers would still be able to offer, and employees would still be able to collectively bargain for, more generous benefits.

Senator Madden Bill to Ban Possession of Armor Piercing Ammunition Clears Senate Committee

Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden that would prohibit the possession of armor piercing ammunition in New Jersey advanced from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on April 16.

“My experience in the State Police has shown that the only people who should have possession of this type of ammunition are law enforcement.  There is just no reason a person should be able to obtain ammunition that has as destructive capabilities as this does,” said Senator Madden.  “Some handguns today are manufactured to be able to use bullets meant for rifles.  We can make it more difficult to obtain rifles, but we also need to ban the ammunition that can be shared between the different types of guns.”

The bill, S-2245, would update and replace the state’s prohibition on the possession, manufacture, transport, shipment, sale and disposal of “body armor penetrating bullets” for armor piercing ammunition.  This bill would clarify that the possession or manufacture of this ammunition is a crime of the fourth degree, which is punishable by a fine of no more than $10,000, imprisonment for no more than 18 months, or both.

The bill would define “armor piercing ammunition” to mean: (1) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and is constructed entirely, excluding the presence of traces of other substances, from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or (2) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

New Jersey has an existing law banning armor-piercing ammunition; this bill would clear up more of the legal issues presented in the current law.  Twenty other states, and the District of Columbia, have a ban on armor-piercing ammunition.  These states include California, Connecticut, Florida, and Texas.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.