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Cruz-Perez and Cunningham Bills Improve Labor Rights and Diversify the Construction Industry

TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham that would require employers in the construction industry to notify employees of certain rights and allocate funds for training of minorities and women has cleared the Senate Labor Committee today.

“The construction industry needs to start becoming more diverse to reflect the population.  Women and minorities deserve the same opportunity to work in the industry,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester).  “We also need to protect construction workers rights.  Our bill will allow workers to know their rights, promoting safety while they work on-the-job.”

“Our cities are currently going through a bit of a construction boom.  We need to do more to have workers hired from cities where projects are located, which will promote job growth and skills training,” said Senator Cunningham.  “As more workers are employed in construction, they will need to be aware of their rights.  Our bill will require that employers post a notice of the workers’ rights.”

Unlike most other labor laws in New Jersey, the “Construction Industry Independent Contractor Act” currently does not contain requirements for posting and notifying of workforce protections such as the minimum wage or overtime.

The first bill, S-345, would require employers that are subject to its provisions to conspicuously post notification of the rights of employees to unemployment benefits, minimum wage, overtime and other federal and State workplace protections, as well as the protections against retaliation and the penalties provided under New Jersey’s “Construction Industry Independent Contractor Act.”

The bill would require that the notification must be provided in English, Spanish or other languages required by the commissioner.  Under the bill, employers who violate these provisions would be guilty of a disorderly person’s offense and, upon conviction, be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,500 for a first violation, and up to $5,000 for any subsequent violation within a five-year period.

The second bill, S-347, would reconcile two laws that have similar purposes that purposes revolve around training of women and minorities in the construction industry for projects costing $1 million or more that are funded wholly or in part by the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The bill, S-345, was released from committee with a vote of 4-0, while the bill, S-347, was released from committee with a vote of 4-1.  Both bills next head to the Senate for further consideration.