Law & Justice

Petitions Submitted to Montclair Township Clerk to Give Private Sector Workers Paid Sick Days

Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Over 1600 petitions were delivered to Montclair Municipal Clerk, Linda Wanat, Tuesday afternoon that would initiate a process to place a local ordinance on the ballot guaranteeing the right of the towns' private sector workers to earn paid sick days.

Montclair Township is among five towns throughout the state of New Jersey that have had petitions delivered that will place local ordinances on the ballot guaranteeing the right of the cities' private sector workers to earn paid sick days.  Those five cities include Irvington, Montclair, Passaic, Paterson, and Trenton.  Two other towns, Newark and Jersey City, have already enacted earned sick days laws.  Yarrow Willman-Cole, Assistant Director of Working Families Programs at Rutgers University, said,  "The City of East Orange introduced similar legislation during their council meeting Monday.  It passed during the first reading."

If enacted, the ordinances would cover 74,000 workers in the five towns who are unable to earn paid sick days to care for themselves or their families in event of an illness.  Along with Newark and Jersey City, a total of 144,000 workers will have received the right to earn sick days through local ordinances.

Sign Up for E-News

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 16,438 private-sector workers in Montclair Township.  Of those, the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University estimates that 7068 are without paid sick leave. 

"…New Jerseyans around the state have delivered an unmistakable message to their elected leaders: earned sick days should be a basic workplace right," said Analilia Mejia, Executive Director of New Jersey Working Families.  "Voters understand that no workers should ever be forced to choose between their paycheck and their health.  We all get sick, so we all need the time to care for ourselves and our families when illness strikes."

Montclair Township and the four other towns identified are organized under New Jersey's Faulkner Act.  Under the terms of the Faulkner Act, a local ballot initiative process is enacted when 10 percent of the registered voters in the last election sign the petitions endorsing legislation.  

More than 1600 petitions were submitted to the Montclair municipal clerk, which exceeds the required amount.  Montclair Municipal Clerk Wanat told the coalition when they delivered the petitions, "We have to certify every signature in the SVRS.”  The Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) is a database that houses each voter’s signature and voter information.

Wanat stated that there were 10,335 voters in the last election and 10 percent is 1034.  1654 are the total number of petitions delivered by the coalition to Wanat.   Mejia told Wanat when she dropped off the petitions, “We didn’t hit the 15% threshold because we didn’t want to trigger a special election since it is costly to the town.”  The coalition stated that they purposely did not want to reach the 15% threshold.  Their intent was for it to be passed by an ordinance or for it to go on the ballot in November.

Mejia said, “Our interest here is that we think this is an important benefit for workers and a critical benefit for public health.  This initiative means that people in critical areas of food service, child care, elder care, don’t have to go in sick.”

Freeholder Brendan Gill accompanied the coalition stating, “I am partnering and supporting as part of the coalition as an elected official,” said Freeholder Brendan Gill.  “This is a great opportunity to enact some common sense legislation for people who work here in Montclair in the food service industry or the day care industry.  The idea of an Earned paid sick leave is one that makes a lot of sense.  They have implemented it in the City of Newark and Jersey City.  I am excited for the potential of either having it on the ballot or having this pass as an ordinance.”  Gill added, “We are doing the outreach to business owners now.”

Once the signatures were reviewed by the Municipal Clerk, the Township Council can choose to pass the law without substantial amendment by a simple majority vote or allow voters to approve it during the next election.  Any initiatives that go to the ballot will be voted on November 4, 2014.

The grassroots coalition collected petitions over the course of three months.  The coalition consists of New Jersey Working Families, New Jersey Citizen Action, the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition, New Jersey Communities United, SEIU 32BJ and CWA.

Dena Mottola Jaborska, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for New Jersey Citizen Action, said, “This is an important policy for all working people who we believe when they get sick or their family member gets sick need a few days a year to stay home to take care of themselves or their family members.  This is a movement that is happening around the nation San Francisco, New York and a lot of the cities around the country have already moved forward on this and now we’re working in multiple cities, including the Town of Montclair to pass this policy. We’ve been out knocking on doors and there has been a lot of support in the town from residents for a paid sick days policy.”

These ordinances closely model legislation signed by former Newark Mayor Luis Quintana in January, which allows private-sector workers to earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Individuals working in businesses with 10 or more employees, can earn 5 paid sick days per year; workers in businesses with nine or fewer employees who are directly in contact with the public, such as food service and daycare workers would be eligible to earn 5 sick days regardless of company size.  The days can be used to care for themselves or for sick children, siblings, parents, grandparents or grandchildren.

Marcia Marley, President of BlueWaveNJ, said, “We believe that every town in New Jersey should give and every worker should have paid sick days.  It’s a public health issue, it’s a social justice issue.  When people have to go to work they pass on illness to their customers. When they can’t stay home with their sick kids they pass it on and their sick kids go to school and pass it to the rest of the public.  We hope that it will pass and become legislation in Montclair.”

Nearly one quarter of adults in the U.S. have been terminated or threatened with job loss for taking time off to recover from illness or care for a sick loved one.  The absence of paid sick days disproportionately affects low-income individuals.  For a low-income family without paid sick days, going just 3.5 days without wages is the equivalent to losing a month's groceries.

According to a poll conducted by Rutgers Eagleton and the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, over 83 percent of New Jerseyans support earned sick days laws.  Studies of earned sick days laws strengthen local economies says over 20 New Jersey Economists.

Robert Jackson, Mayor of Montclair, said, “I’m still looking at the law and making some judgments about it.  I haven’t talked to my colleagues at all and I haven’t spoken with members of the business community here in town.  Our life’s blood are restaurants and I want to chat with the business associations and see how they feel about it.  These are very important players in our town and will be affected parties so I want to get input from everybody before reaching a conclusion.”  “I don’t think most of the business owners in town realize that this is on the horizon so I think their input is vitally important.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


‘We Must Not Be Enemies’

May 9, 2018

Dear Editor

I want to take opportunity to congratulate Mayor Elect Andre Sayegh on his awesome election night victory and for running a campaign to unite all Patersonians. His message of “One Paterson” resonated with the electorate. I believe that Paterson's best days are ahead. He will govern the city the same way he campaigned, always putting Paterson and ...

Free Dog Training Classes

May 22, 2018

Does your family have a new dog or puppy that needs to get trained? You do not have to spend a fortune training Fido. Come to Passaic County's Free Dog Training Sessions in Goffle Brook Park in Hawthorne. Classes are held every Monday and Thursday from 6pm-8pm through June, July, and August. 

For more info, or to see if weather canceled the event, please call 973-881-4833. 

Paterson Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh Announces Transition Team Leadership

PATERSON, NJ – Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh today announced the leadership of his transition team, which will examine the current state of municipal government, make recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city services, and help make the necessary preparations for the launch of the new administration on July 1.

“As I said throughout my campaign, we intend to ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

Passaic County CASA Recognizes Volunteer Child Advocates at Annual Event

May 11, 2018

WAYNE, NJ- More than 50 staff members, volunteers, and board members from Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) celebrated the impact of CASA volunteers at the organization's Volunteer Appreciation Brunch on April 28, 2018, at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne. This annual event recognizes Passaic County CASA volunteer advocates and the difference they make in the lives of ...

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver Testimony on Proposal to Divert Affordable Housing Funds

May 21, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- TAPinto Paterson earlier reported on the response of local community leaders and activists on a proposal by Governor Phil Murphy to divert $46 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) which they wrote in a letter signed by representatives of over 100 groups statewide is “legally dedicated to the creation of affordable homes for lower income ...

Local Advocates Join Statewide Call for Restoration of Affordable Housing Funds

PATERSON, NJ- The leaders of several local organizations including Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Saint Paul’s Community Development Corporation, the Paterson Housing Authority, and the City of Paterson’s Neighborhood Assistance Office lent their signatures to a letter urging Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature to preserve a fund dedicated to creation of affordable ...

The Elections are Over, Now it's Time to Collaborate!

May 21, 2018

For much of the past six months Paterson’s focus has been on the races for mayor and council, and rightly so. The elected officials that serve the nearly 150,000 residents of our city have an enormous responsibility, their actions dictating not just success of our community, but the way our City is perceived.

The election is now behind us, and we congratulate all who took part in the ...