NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Monday signed a bill to protect service workers from a sudden and unexpected loss of employment due to a change in ownership where they work.
This legislation will provide important employment protections and peace of mind for many New Jersey service employees.
“Service employees should not have the rug pulled out from under them for circumstances outside their control that have nothing to do with their job performance,” Murphy said. “These protections will offer many hardworking employees the professional courtesy and stability they deserve during transitional periods.”
The bill (A-4682/S-2389) establishes employment protections for non-managerial/professional service employees who have been working at an eligible location on a full or part-time basis at least 16 hours per week for 60 or more days in connection with either:
- the care or maintenance of a building or property;
- passenger related security services, cargo related and ramp services, in-terminal and passenger handling, and cleaning services at an airport; or
- food preparation services at a primary, secondary, or post-secondary school.
The law requires current employers to notify bargaining representatives and post a notification at the job site about the upcoming change in property ownership at least 15 days in advance. The employer must also share information about the service workers with the new employer and information about the new employer with the current service workers.
Upon taking over ownership, new employers must retain the covered service employees for at least 60 days or until the employees’ existing contract comes to an end – whichever comes first – except in instances where the employer: finds that fewer service employees are needed to perform the work than had been employed; retains service employees by seniority within each job classification; maintains a preferential hiring list of the employees that were not retained; and hires any additional service employees from that list, in order of seniority, until all affected service workers have been offered the opportunity for employment.
New employers cannot reduce service workers’ hours in order to circumvent these protections and cannot otherwise fire the covered employees without just cause during that 60 day period.
The bill applies to locations such as multi-family residential buildings with more than 50 units, large commercial and office buildings/complexes, schools, cultural centers, industrial sites, pharmaceutical labs, airports, train stations, State courts, warehouses, and certain hospitals and nursing homes.
“We thank the Governor for his leadership and for signing this vital piece of legislation. The Building Service Worker Retention law gives New Jersey service workers peace of mind. This law recognizes the inherent dignity of their work and their value to the state of New Jersey,” said 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President and NJ State Director Kevin Brown. “32BJ thanks Governor Murphy for his constant advocacy as a champion for working people across the state. We thank Assembly Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Scutari for their critical leadership in the legislature. We also thank Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblyman Gary Schaer for their sponsorship of the legislation. New Jersey is now the second state in the country to protect building service employees from arbitrary lay-offs during a change of building ownership or change of contractor for 60 days. Now, our state’s janitors, security officers, airport workers, concierges and other service workers will be protected from unfairly losing their jobs. This is a massive victory for workers’ rights.”