SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 117

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 4, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Amends Constitution to set minimum wage at $8.50 per hour with annual adjustments for inflation.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


A Concurrent Resolution proposing to amend Article I of the New Jersey Constitution by adding a new paragraph thereto.

 

     Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):

 

     1.    The following proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of New Jersey is agreed to:

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENT

 

     Amend Article I of the State Constitution by the addition of the following paragraph:

     23.  Workers in public and private employment have a right to be paid wages at rates which are not oppressive or unreasonable and which are sufficient to safeguard their health, efficiency, and general well-being and to protect them as well as their employers from the effects of serious and unfair competition resulting from wage levels detrimental to their health, efficiency and well-being.  Every employer shall, beginning the January 1 next following the date on which this paragraph becomes part of the Constitution, pay each employee a wage rate of not less than $8.50 per hour for the first 40 hours of working time in any week and one and one half times the employee's regular hourly wage for each hour of working time in excess of 40 hours in any week.  On the September 30 next following the date on which this paragraph becomes part of the Constitution and on September 30 of each subsequent year, this State minimum wage rate shall be increased effective the following January 1 by any increase during the one year prior to that September in the consumer price index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers for all items as calculated by the federal government.  If, at any time, the federal minimum hourly wage rate set by section 6 of the federal "Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938" (29 U.S.C. s.206) is raised to a level higher than the minimum wage set by this paragraph, the minimum wage set by this paragraph shall be immediately increased to the level of the federal minimum wage, and all subsequent increases based on increases in the consumer price index shall be applied to the minimum wage as increased to match the federal minimum wage.  The minimum wage requirements and overtime requirements of this paragraph shall apply to all categories of employees who were, on the date of the approval of this amendment by the people pursuant to Article IX of the Constitution, subject to, respectively, the minimum wage requirements and overtime requirements of the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law,” P.L.1966, c.113 (C.34:11-56a et seq.), and those minimum wage or overtime requirements shall not apply to the respective categories of employees who were exempt from those minimum wage or overtime requirements on that date, except that that act may be amended to extend the scope of that act to categories of employees that were previously exempted from the wage or overtime requirements.  All remedies, penalties or other measures provided by that act as of that date for violations of the provisions of that act, and any remedies, penalties or other measures for violations of that act which are subsequently added by amendment to that act, shall be applicable to violations of this paragraph.  The provisions of this paragraph, and the provisions of the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law,” P.L.1966, c.113 (C.34:11-56a et seq.), shall not be construed as prohibiting the establishment at any level of government, by collective bargaining agreement, law, or other means, of requirements or standards regarding wage rates, overtime, or other terms and conditions of employment which are more favorable to employees or which otherwise provide greater protections or rights to employees than the requirements or standards of this paragraph, including prevailing wage and other requirements or standards pertaining to public contracts.

 

     2.    When this proposed amendment to the Constitution is finally agreed to pursuant to Article IX, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, it shall be submitted to the people at the next general election occurring more than three months after the final agreement and shall be published at least once in at least one newspaper of each county designated by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Secretary of State, not less than three months prior to the general election.

 

     3.    This proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be submitted to the people at that election in the following manner and form:

     There shall be printed on each official ballot to be used at the general election, the following:

     a.     In every municipality in which voting machines are not used, a legend which shall immediately precede the question as follows:

     If you favor the proposition printed below make a cross (X), plus (+), or check (a) in the square opposite the word "Yes." If you are opposed thereto make a cross (X), plus (+) or check (a) in the square opposite the word "No."

     b.    In every municipality the following question:


 


 

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO SET THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE AT $8.50 PER HOUR AND PROVIDE ANNUAL COST OF LIVING INCREASES.

 

YES

Do you approve amending the State Constitution to raise the State minimum wage rate to $8.50 per hour?  The amendment also requires annual increases in that rate as needed to keep pace with increases in the cost of living.

 

 

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT

 

NO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   This amendment raises the State minimum wage rate to $8.50 per hour. It requires annual increases in that rate as needed to keep pace with increases in the cost of living.  Also, if the federal minimum wage rate is raised above the State rate, the State wage rate would be raised to match the federal rate.  Future cost of living increases then would be added to that rate.

   Workers currently exempt from the minimum wage law would continue to be exempt.  But the amendment allows the law to be changed in the future to extend minimum wage coverage to workers who are now exempt.  The amendment retains current penalties for violations of wage requirements, but allows further penalties to be added in the future.

   The amendment only sets minimum standards. It does not prohibit the setting of higher standards by law, collective bargaining, or other means, such as prevailing wage standards.

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The purpose of this proposed constitutional amendment is to provide that workers have a right to be paid wages at rates which are not oppressive or unreasonable and which are sufficient to safeguard their health, efficiency, and general well-being and to protect them, as well as their employers, from the effects of serious and unfair competition resulting from wage levels detrimental to their health, efficiency and well-being.

     Specifically, this constitutional amendment, if approved by the voters of this State, would require every employer to pay each employee a wage rate of not less than $8.50 per hour beginning on the first January 1 following voter approval, for the first 40 hours of working time in any week and one and one half times the worker's regular hourly wage for each hour of working time in excess of 40 hours per week.  It would provide for annual increases in the minimum wage rate whenever needed to keep pace with any increases in the consumer price index.  If, at any time, the federal minimum hourly wage is raised to a level higher than the minimum wage set by the amendment, the minimum wage set by the amendment would be immediately increased to the level of the federal minimum wage, and all subsequent increases based on increases in the consumer price index would be applied to the minimum wage as increased to match the federal minimum wage.

     The minimum wage and overtime requirements of the amendment would apply to all categories of employees subject to the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law,” P.L.1966, c.113 (C.34:11-56a et seq.) at the time that the amendment is approved, except that the amendment allows subsequent amendments in that act to extend the scope of that act to categories of employees that were previously exempted.  The amendment makes current penalties and remedies, and any added future penalties and remedies, for violations of the State’s existing minimum wage law apply to violations of the amendment.

     The amendment sets minimum standards and does not preclude the establishment, by law, collective bargaining agreement, or other means, of higher standards, such as prevailing wage standards.