By Briana Vannozzi
With a 3-to-1 margin, voters gave a resounding yes to paid sick leave ordinances.
“It’s very clear that voters in multiple municipalities — Montclair, Trenton and all of the cities that adopted it before — are eager to see earned sick days be a right for workers all across the state. We hope it shows a mandate for state legislators to take action in the next few months,” said Analilia Mejia.
Mejia’s group New Jersey Working Families helped form a coalition of other activist groups across the state advocating for the measure. It requires all private employers to provide an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
“This is going to have a positive impact on the economies of low wage workers. This is going to have a positive impact on families,” she said.
The two towns join the ranks with Newark, Jersey City, Passaic, Irvington, East Orange and Paterson.
“It won’t take effect for four months, 120 days for implementation, so we’ll educate the businesses and try to work with them and the town of Montclair will be fair and try to do a balanced job of enforcing it, but the voters have spoken,” said Montclair Deputy Mayor Bob Russo.
Russo says it sends a broader statewide message that a uniform bill needs to be passed.
The business community, however, is speaking out. They have major concerns with what they call a one-size-fits-all policy. And while many agree with the concept, they say the approach by municipalities and advocates is all wrong.
“Quite honestly the best way to administer paid time off is to allow employers develop a paid time off bank that would include vacation time, personal time, sick days and allow employees to allocate those hours, those days off in a way that suits them best,” said Falstrom Company President and CEO Cliff Lindholm.
Lindholm runs Falstrom Company, a family owned manufacturing company based in Passaic for nearly 150 years. The ordinance there passed months ago, but he says the effects are real.
“It’ll probably be an increase of about 4 to 5 percent on our personnel cost for the business,” he said. “It’s going to be done through reduction of other costs or other benefits we provide to our employees.”
Advocates say they’ll be spending time educating the communities on implementing plans and hope to take it statewide in the next few months.