New Jersey Governor Chris Christie started September off with an anti-worker bang, taking two direct swipes at construction workers in his state.
Christie has vetoed a bill aimed at stopping employee misclassification in the drayage trucking industry. In issuing an absolute veto of A1578/S1450, Christie is allowing the exploitative practices of trucking companies to go unchecked, a fact not lost on the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski. In a statement, Wisniewski took the governor to task for supporting the New Jersey Motor Truck Association which boogeymanned the bill as a “job killer.”
“Governor Christie’s veto of the Truck Operator Independent Contractor Act, legislation I sponsored to protect truck drivers who are incorrectly treated as contractors rather than employees, is just the latest example of the Governor siding against hard working New Jerseyans,” he said. “His veto keeps in place a system that is unfair to workers and unfair to those companies that play by the rules.”
“Because of the Governor’s veto, unethical companies will continue to skirt the law by gaming the system to avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” said Wisniewski. “In doing so, they will also continue to deprive their drivers of Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment benefits.”
The absolute nature of the veto means Christie ensures the bill cannot become law unless two-thirds of the legislature votes to override. Given that the bill’s original vote fell along party lines it is highly unlikely this threshold can be met.
Christie next flexed his anti-worker muscle by axing provisions in the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 which would have mandated that businesses receiving tax credits from the state pay prevailing wages. Instead of signing, vetoing, or conditionally vetoing the law, Christie returned the bill to the legislature with recommendations for “minor changes.” Those “minor changes” will result in lower wages for workers even when the state shells out tax dollars to their employers. In his recommendation, Christie wrote:
“I commend the sponsors’ efforts to improve New Jersey’s already successful economic development programs,” Mr. Christie wrote in the two-page message. “With these minor, but important, modifications incorporated, I look forward to swiftly signing this bill.”
The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 has undergone extensive revision since it was originally proposed last year. For progressives, the inclusion of prevailing wage provisions was one of the few bright spots in a piece of legislation business interests have been trying to fast-track. Via to the Wall Street Journal Metropolis blog:
New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal organization that is critical of tax credits, criticized the governor Monday for calling for the removal of the prevailing wage component.
“He used his veto power to remove one of the few positive elements of the legislation,” said Gordon MacInnes, the organization’s president. “What the governor has done is take a bad piece of legislation and make it even worse.”
The revised bill passed through the Assembly on Monday by a 70-8 vote. The state Senate will take up the bill on Thursday.