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Smith Bill Authorizing Greater Labor Organization Approved

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Smith which would make it easier for non-unionized employees to organize to increase their negotiating power was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 24-11, receiving final legislative approval.

“The right of employees to organize in order to protect the basic rights of the worker is a time-honored tradition that has lead to landmark employee protections that have made the working place a safer and far more fair environment,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset. “Unions have been at the forefront of every major employee initiative in the last 100 plus years. We need to continue the tradition of unionization, to maintain a necessary watchdog for the working man, and give employees the ability to organize without facing retribution from non-union employers.”

The bill, S-194, would authorize the State Board of Mediation to recognize representatives of employees of private employers who are not covered under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The employees would be allowed to choose their representative through a traditional election as outlined under the NLRA, or they could legitimately choose representatives by signing cards to demonstrate a majority interest in having a representative, known as the card-check method. The bill would authorize the Board of Mediation to determine whether an employee unit is an appropriate unit for collective bargaining, and would require a fine of up to $1000 and court costs to those employers who refuse to provide information to the Board of Mediation or seek to prevent the Board from ruling on any labor negotiations.

“Card-check gives employees a chance to unionize without fear of retaliation,” said Senator Smith. “In some cases, employers put pressure on their workers to avoid unionization, and that is tantamount to a quashing of the public voice, denying the first amendment right to assemble. We should not sit idly by while the rights of workers are, in some situations, routinely ignored or trampled upon, and card-check is a powerful tool to level the playing field between organized labor and union-fearing employers.”

The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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