ASSEMBLY, No. 4223

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 29, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  AMY H. HANDLIN

District 13 (Middlesex and Monmouth)

Assemblyman  DECLAN J. O'SCANLON, JR.

District 12 (Mercer and Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes the “New Jersey Right to Work Act”; prohibits payroll deduction of union dues from wages or salaries of public employees.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning labor organization membership and dues, revising various parts of the statutory law and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Sections 1 through 9 of this act shall be known and may be cited as the “New Jersey Right to Work Act.”

 

     2.    The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     The right to work is inherent in the right to live. Article I of the New Jersey State Constitution states that individuals are born with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life and liberty, and acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursing and obtaining safety and happiness;

     b.    Public and private sector labor organizations enter into many governmental, business and industrial enterprises in the State, thereby affecting the social and economic conditions of its citizenry. In order to foster a climate that encourages economic growth and individual liberty, workers in this State should possess the freedom to associate, the ability to self-organize and the right to refrain from such activities as they so choose. The economic liberty of New Jersey’s citizens should not be infringed by an employer who requires employees either to become members of a labor organization or financially support a labor organization as non-members; and

     c.     Therefore, it is necessary and appropriate, in light of these findings, and with the intention of transforming them into action, to enact legislation setting forth a comprehensive approach to the protection of the intrinsic freedom of choice in an individual’s pursuit of employment. The workers of this State must be protected in their right to join or assist a labor union, financially or otherwise, or to refrain from such activities, without threats or the fear of penalties or reprisals concerning their actions.

 

     3.    For the purposes of this act:

     “Employer” means an employer and any person acting, directly or indirectly, on behalf of or in the interest of an employer with the employer's knowledge or ratification, but a labor organization, or any officer or agent thereof, shall be considered an employer only with respect to individuals employed by such organization. This term shall include "public employers" including the State of New Jersey, and any political subdivision of the State, school district, special district, and any authority, commission, board, branch or agency of the State, political subdivision or district.

     “Labor organization” means an agency, employee representation committee, group, association, plan, or organization of any kind in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.

 

     4.    No person in the employ of any employer shall be required as a condition of employment or continuation of employment to:

     a.     Become or remain a member of a labor organization;

     b.    Resign or refrain from voluntary membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of a labor organization;

     c.     Pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind or amount to a labor organization;

     d.    Pay any charity or other third party any amount in lieu of paying dues, fees, assessments, or other charges to a labor organization; or

     e.     Be recommended, approved, referred, or cleared by or through a labor organization.

 

     5.    Any contract entered into on or after the effective date of this act between any labor organization and employer which violates section 4 of this act shall be null and void. The provisions of section 4 of this act shall not apply to any existing contract, but shall apply to any renewal or extensions of any existing contract on or after the effective date of this act.

 

     6.    Every employer shall post and keep continuously displayed the following notice, printed in at least 10-point bold-faced type, at a place or places in the place of business, establishment, or premises where it may be readily seen by all employees, and it shall be the further duty of every employer to furnish a copy of that notice to each employee at the time the employee is hired:

 

EMPLOYEE FREEDOM OF CHOICE

 

Under the “New Jersey Right to Work Act,” P.L.   , c.  (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), employees are protected in the exercise of their free choice to join or refrain from joining labor unions, and it is unlawful for an employer and a labor union to enter into a contract or agreement requiring employees to pay dues, fees, or charges of any kind to a labor organization as a condition of obtaining or keeping a job. Under the “New Jersey Right to Work Act,” an employer may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because of joining or refusing to join a labor organization, or to pay dues or other charges to a labor organization.

 

     7.    a.  It shall be unlawful for any person, labor organization or labor organization’s officer, agent or member, or employer or employer’s agent, representative or designee, to threaten, intimidate, coerce, or use force against an individual exercising his rights provided under this act.

     b.    Any person, labor organization or officer, agent or member thereof, or employer or employer’s agent, representative or designee who violates subsection a. of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for the first violation and an amount not to exceed $5,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development in a summary proceeding pursuant to the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

 

     8.    Upon a violation of any provision of this act, an aggrieved person may institute a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction, within one year from the date of the alleged violation, for relief as follows:

     a.     With respect to a prospective employee, the court may:

     (1)   order injunctive relief as it deems appropriate;

     (2)   award compensatory and consequential damages incurred by the prospective employee as a result of the violation; or

     (3)   award reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.

     b.    With respect to an employee or former employee, the court may:

     (1)   order injunctive relief as it deems appropriate, including reinstatement of the employee to the same position held before the violation or the position the employee would have held but for the violation, as well as the reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights;

     (2)   award compensatory and consequential damages incurred by the employee or former employee as a result of the violation, including compensation for lost wages, benefits and other remuneration; or

     (3)   award reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs.

 

     9.    The provisions of this act shall not apply to:

     a.     Employers and employees covered by the federal “Railway Labor Act,” (45 U.S.C. s.151 et seq.);

     b.    Federal employers and employees; or

     c.     Employers and employees on exclusive federal enclaves.

 

     10.  Section 4 of P.L.1965, c.173 (C.34:11-4.4) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    No employer may withhold or divert any portion of an employee's wages unless:

     a.     The employer is required or [empowered] has express authorization to do so by New Jersey or United States law; or

     b.    The amounts withheld or diverted are for:

     (1)   Contributions authorized either in writing by employees, or under a collective bargaining agreement, to employee welfare, insurance, hospitalization, medical or surgical or both, pension, retirement, and profit-sharing plans, and to plans establishing individual retirement annuities on a group or individual basis, as defined by section 408 (b) of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C.s.408(b)), or individual retirement accounts at any State or federally chartered bank, savings bank, or savings and loan association, as defined by section 408 (a) of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C.s.408(a)), for the employee, his spouse or both.

     (2)   Contributions authorized either in writing by employees, or under a collective bargaining agreement, for payment into company-operated thrift plans; or security option or security purchase plans to buy securities of the employing corporation, an affiliated corporation, or other corporations at market price or less, provided such securities are listed on a stock exchange or are marketable over the counter.

     (3)   Payments authorized by employees for payment into employee personal savings accounts, such as payments to a credit union, savings fund society, savings and loan or building and loan association; and payments to banks for Christmas, vacation, or other savings funds; provided all such deductions are approved by the employer.

     (4)   Payments for company products purchased in accordance with a periodic payment schedule contained in the original purchase agreement; payments for employer loans to employees, in accordance with a periodic payment schedule contained in the original loan agreement; payments for safety equipment; payments for the purchase of United States Government bonds; payments to correct payroll errors; and payments of costs and related fees for the replacement of employee identification, which is used to allow employees access to sterile or secured areas of airports, in accordance with a fee schedule described in any airline media plan approved by the federal Transportation Security Administration; provided all such deductions are approved by the employer.

     (5)   Contributions authorized by employees for organized and generally recognized charities; provided the deductions for such contributions are approved by the employer.

     (6)   Payments authorized by employees or their collective bargaining agents for the rental of work clothing or uniforms or for the laundering or dry cleaning of work clothing or uniforms; provided the deductions for such payments are approved by the employer.

     (7)   Labor organization dues and initiation fees, and such other labor organization charges permitted by law, except that after December 31, 2011, no public employer, as defined in section 3 of P.L.   , c.  (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), may withhold or divert any portion of any public employee’s wages for labor organization dues and initiation fees, or any other labor organization charges.

     (8)   Contributions authorized in writing by employees, pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, to a political committee, continuing political committee, or both, as defined in section 3 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-3), established by the employees' labor union for the purpose of making contributions to aid or promote the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for a public office of the State or of a county, municipality or school district or the passage or defeat of any public question, subject to the conditions specified in section 2 of P.L.1991, c.190 (C.34:11-4.4a); except that, with respect to those public employees excluded in paragraph (7) of this subsection b., no contribution shall be withheld or diverted from that employee’s wages for the purposes set out in this paragraph (8).

     (9)   Contributions authorized in writing by employees to any political committee or continuing political committee, other than a committee provided for in paragraph (8) of this subsection, for the purpose of making contributions to aid or promote the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for a public office of the State or of a county, municipality or school district or the passage or defeat of any public question, subject to the conditions specified in section 2 of P.L.1991, c.190 (C.34:11-4.4a); in making a payroll deduction pursuant to this paragraph the administrative expenses incurred by the employer shall be borne by such committee, at the option of the employer; except that, with respect to those public employees excluded in paragraph (7) of this subsection b., no contribution shall be withheld or diverted from that employee’s wages for the purposes set out in this paragraph (9).

     (10) Payments authorized by employees for employer-sponsored programs for the purchase of insurance or annuities on a group or individual basis, if otherwise permitted by law.

     (11) Such other contributions, deductions and payments as the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development may authorize by regulation as proper and in conformity with the intent and purpose of this act, if such deductions are approved by the employer.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.226, s.1)

 

     11.  Sections 2 through 6 of P.L.1979, c.477 (C.34:13A-5.5 through C.34:13A-5.9) are repealed.

     12.  This act shall take effect January 1, 2012.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes New Jersey as a “Right to Work” state by protecting all employees in the exercise of joining or refusing to join a labor organization. The bill prohibits employers and labor organizations from requiring employees to become or remain members of a labor organization, and to pay dues, fees or other charges to the labor organization, as a condition of employment or continued employment. Under this bill, any contract entered into on or after January 1, 2012, between any labor organization and employer which requires, as a condition of employment or continued employment, that an employee affiliate with, or pay dues, fees or other charges to, a labor organization shall be null and void.

     The bill defines the term “employer” to include both private sector and public sector employers for purposes of the protections afforded under this bill. The bill also defines “labor organization” as an agency, employee representation committee, group, association, plan, or organization of any kind in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.

     The bill requires all employers to post and keep continuously displayed a notice, printed in at least 10-point bold-faced type, at a place or places in the place of business, establishment, or premises where it may be readily seen by all employees, and to furnish a copy of that notice to all employees upon hiring, that informs the employees of their rights under the provisions of this bill.

     The bill prohibits any person, labor organization or labor organization’s officer, agent or member thereof, or employer or employer’s agent, representative or designee from using threats, intimidation, coercion, or the use of force against an individual exercising his rights provided under the bill. The bill provides for the imposition of civil penalties, for those who use threats, intimidation, coercion, or force, in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for the first violation and an amount not to exceed $5,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. Also, upon a violation of any provision of the bill, an aggrieved person may institute a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction, within one year from the date of the alleged violation.

     The bill also specifies that the provisions of the bill do not apply to the following:

     (1)   employers and employees covered by the federal “Railway Labor Act,” (45 U.S.C. s.151 et seq.);

     (2)   federal employers and employees; or

     (3)   employers and employees on exclusive federal enclaves.

     The bill amends section 4 of P.L.1965, c.173 (C.34:11-4.4) and repeals sections 2 through 6 of P.L.1979, c.477 (C.34:13A-5.5 through C.34:13A-5.9) to:

     (1)   prohibit a public employer of public employees in a collective negotiating unit from withholding or diverting union dues by payroll deduction from the wages or salaries of the public employees;

     (2)   prohibit a public employer of public employees in a negotiating unit from withholding or diverting a representation fee in lieu of dues by payroll deduction from the wages or salaries of nonmember public employees in the unit; and

     (3)   prohibit a public employer of public employees from withholding or diverting contributions to a political action committee from the wages or salaries of the public employees.

     Currently, State law permits all employers to withhold or divert portions of an employee’s wages for purposes of paying labor organization dues, initiation fees, and other labor organization charges permitted by law. The law also provides that all employers may withhold or divert contributions to political action committees from the wages or salaries of employees.

     Furthermore, the majority representative and the public employer of public employees in a collective negotiating unit may negotiate an agreement that entitles the majority representative to receive payment, by payroll deduction from the wages or salaries of the nonmember employees, of a representation fee in lieu of dues for services rendered by the majority representative. The representation fee in lieu of dues in no event may exceed 85% of the regular membership dues, fees, and assessments charged by the majority representative.

     By amending section 4 of P.L.1965, c.173 (C.34:11-4.4) and repealing sections 2 through 6 of P.L.1979, c.477 (C.34:13A-5.5 through C.34:13A-5.9), this bill will prohibit a public employer of public employees from withholding or diverting a portion of the wages or salaries of employees for purposes of paying union dues, initiation fees, and other labor organization charges permitted by law, for contributions to political action committees, or for a representation fee in lieu of dues.