Striking Employees in NJ Can now Get Unemployment Benefits

On Friday the 10th of August 2018, Governor Phil Murphy, signed a law that permits striking employees to get unemployment insurance benefits in the State of New Jersey.

The law was first proposed by state lawmakers in 2016 during a six-week strike that was staged by Verizon employees as they protested against demands that were introduced into their contracts by the company. Out of the telecommunications giant’s total workforce of 40,000 in the East Coast, around 4,600 workers were based in New Jersey.

A few months later, 1,000 employees of the Taj Mahal Casino and Hotel went on strike after a disagreement over their benefits, and this this gave the drive for striking workers unemployment benefits further impetus.

During a news conference in 2016, Stephen Sweeney, the president of the state Senate, commented that the law would make it possible for the workers to articulate their issues without being coerced back to work through starvation.

However, the bill was vetoed by Chris Christie, who was the governor at the time, later in November that year.

But Murphy, who is a Democrat, decided to give the bill another chance. Noting that he wished to safeguard the collective bargaining rights of the workers, he has already made moves to reverse the labor policies implemented by Chris Christie.

The new law allows workers to claim for unemployment insurance during labor disputes where an employer breaches the terms set out in a collective bargaining agreement or an employment contract. In addition, striking employees qualify for the benefit after a waiting period of 30 days if the dispute is not caused by the failure of the employee to abide by the terms laid out in the employment contract.

As per the new law, the change includes all claims for periods of unemployment starting from or after the 1st of July, 2018.

The Assembly passed the bill (A3861) by a 48-25 vote in the month of June. Later in the same month, it was passed by a vote of 23-14 in the Senate.