BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Business Report Plus: Murphy administration agrees to contract with CWA

BY Rhonda Schaffler, Correspondent |
  • CWA ratifies four-year labor contract.
  • Murphy signs paid sick leave bill.
  • Chamber of Commerce reacts to Murphy’s progressive agenda.
  • Monthly jobs report released.
  • SBA highlights NJ small business owner.
  • Murphy signs property tax cap workaround.
  • New Jersey predicts strong year for tourism.

May Day isn’t typically a holiday we celebrate in New Jersey, but for workers it certainly was cause for celebration this year, thanks to Gov. Murphy’s progressive agenda.

The Murphy Administration and the union representing state workers reached a new four-year labor contract. The agreement with the Communications Workers of America covers more than 30,000 state workers, and includes back pay that had been halted under the Christie Administration. Not surprisingly, the CWA lauded the new deal and also had some harsh words for former Gov. Chris Christie, saying:

“The CWA was unwilling to permit Chris Christie to flout the law and destroy collective bargaining. We held our ground, and are heartened that the terrible Christie chapter of New Jersey history is now over.”

The agreement will come at a cost to taxpayers, with Gov. Murphy’s office putting the price tag at nearly $150 million.

The governor also focused on helping private sector workers this week. Days after signing an equal pay law, the governor also signed a bill that establishes paid sick leave for New Jersey workers.

For businesses, the governor’s recent actions will no doubt impact the bottom line. And while New Jersey’s business community commended the governor, it also urged him to broaden his thinking. Here’s how the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce put it:

“The signing of the mandatory paid sick leave bill by the governor is one more mandate to accommodate the governor’s goal to make our economy ‘stronger and fairer.’ This legislation is on the ‘fairer’ side, as was pay equity, and as will be a $15 minimum wage. We now need to concentrate on the ‘stronger’ side — a stronger economy. We need to pump the brakes regarding the legislative mandates on business and focus our attention now on the ‘stronger’ side. We need to grow the economy and jobs, and we now need some significant initiatives to accommodate that.”

Jobs are growing significantly according to the federal government, which released its monthly jobs report on Friday. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in April – an 18 year low. Companies added 164,000 new jobs last month, and working pay increased.

This week was also Small Business Week, and the federal government gave a shout out to one New Jersey businessman. The SBA named a Morris County manufacturer New Jersey’s Small Business Person of the Year. He’s Richard Spanier, co-founder of Rudolph Research Analytical, a company that’s grown to $14 million in annual sales.

Also this week, Gov. Murphy signed another bill that could benefit thousands of New Jersey property owners. Murphy signed legislation that would allow municipalities to set up charitable funds that taxpayers would contribute to instead of paying their property taxes. That way, their payments would be tax deductible as a charitable contribution, enabling homeowners to get around the new federal law that limits state and local property deductions. As Brenda Flanagan reported, it’s not clear whether the IRS will allow the deductions.

Finally, New Jersey’s tourism business looks bright. State officials project 2018 will be another strong year for tourism. It’s expected that 103.6 million tourists will visit New Jersey this year – a 2.6 percent increase over 2017.