SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 1

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED OCTOBER 1, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Amends Constitution to set minimum wage at $8.25 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.  All workers employed in the State have a right to be paid wages that are not oppressive or unreasonable and 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.  Following the establishment of an appropriate minimum wage rate, the making of regular, annual cost-of-living adjustments in that minimum wage will benefit workers by reducing the impact of inflation on them and benefit employers by providing small, manageable, incremental increases in the minimum wage which will end the historic pattern of large, sudden, disruptive increases in the minimum wage in very short time periods in between long periods without increases.  Every employer shall, beginning the January 1 next following the date of the approval of this amendment by the people pursuant to Article IX of the Constitution, pay each employee a wage rate of not less than the rate required by the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law,” P.L.1966, c.113 (C.34:11-56a et seq.) on that date, or $8.25 per hour, whichever is more, 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 of the approval of this amendment, and on September 30 of each subsequent year, the State minimum wage rate shall be increased effective the following January 1 by any increase during the one year prior to that September 30 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 pursuant to this paragraph shall be applied to the minimum wage as increased to match the federal minimum wage.  If the minimum wage required by the provisions of the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law,” P.L.1966, c.113 (C.34:11-56a et seq.) is increased by amendment of that law, all subsequent increases based on increases in the consumer price index pursuant to this paragraph shall be applied to the minimum wage as increased by the amendment of that law.  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, subject to 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 minimum 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.  No provision of this paragraph or the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law,” P.L.1966, c.113 (C.34:11-56a et seq.) shall be construed as prohibiting, at any level of government, the establishment, 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 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 A STATE MINIMUM WAGE WITH ANNUAL COST OF LIVING INCREASES

 

YES

Do you approve amending the State Constitution to set a State minimum wage rate of at least $8.25 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 to the State Constitution sets the State minimum wage at the level in effect under current law, or $8.25 per hour, whichever is more.  Cost of living increases would be added each year.  Also, if the federal minimum wage rate is raised above the State rate, the State rate would be raised to match the federal rate.  Future cost of living increases then would be added to that raised rate.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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 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.  The amendment requires, following the establishment of a minimum wage rate appropriate to that purpose, the making of regular, annual cost-of-living increases in that minimum wage to benefit workers by reducing the impact of inflation on them and to benefit employers by providing small, manageable, incremental increases in the minimum wage, which will end the historic pattern of large,  disruptive increases in the minimum wage in very short time periods in between long periods with no increases.

     Specifically, this constitutional amendment, if approved by the voters of this State, would set a minimum wage, initially the minimum wage rate in effect under the existing State minimum wage law (“New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law,” P.L.1966, c.113, C.34:11-56a et seq.) at the time of approval, or at $8.25 per hour, whichever is more, and then provide annual cost of living increases based on increases in the consumer price index.  The cost of living increases would be added to the initial rate and any subsequent increases in the minimum wage rate made by law.  Also, if the federal minimum wage rate is raised above the State rate, the State rate would be raised to match the federal rate.  Future cost of living increases then would be added to that rate.

     The minimum wage and overtime requirements of the amendment would apply to all categories of employees subject to the existing State minimum wage law at the time of approval, except that the amendment allows subsequent changes in that law to extend its scope to currently exempted categories of employees.  The amendment makes current penalties and remedies for violations of the State minimum wage law, and any added future penalties and remedies, 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.