Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday signed a law allowing striking workers to collect unemployment benefits in New Jersey.
State lawmakers first proposed the legislation two years ago as Verizon workers waged a six‐week strike against the telecommunications giant’s contract demands. About 4,600 of the 40,000 East Coast employees on strike worked in New Jersey.
Months later, 1,000 Taj Mahal casino and hotel employees launched a strike in a dispute over benefits, and the push for unemployment benefits intensified.
At a 2016 news conference, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D‐Gloucester, said the bill would “allow workers to express their rights without being starved back to work.”
But it was given a second chance under Murphy, a Democrat who has said he wants to defend collective bargaining rights and already taken steps to reverse Christie’s labor policies.
A spokesman for Murphy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.“I’m glad he signed it,” Sweeney told NJ Advance Media on Friday. “I think it levels the playing field for workers when they’re exercising their rights.”
Under the new law, workers can file for unemployment insurance in labor disputes when an employer violates the terms of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement. And striking workers would be eligible after a 30‐day waiting period if the dispute isn’t prompted by an employer’s failure to comply with contract terms.
According to the bill, the change covers “any claim for a period of unemployment commencing on or after July 1, 2018.”
The Assembly passed the bill (A3861) by a vote of 48–25 in June, followed by a 23–14 vote later that month in the Senate.
NJ Advance Media staff writer Brent Johnson contributed to this report.