The Guaranteed Severance Pay Bill, Senate Bill 3170/Assembly Bill 5145, is heading to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk after receiving the majority votes needed on Monday to advance.
If signed by the governor, New Jersey will become the first state in the country to mandate that employers provide one week of severance pay for each year of service for their workers when more than 50 employees are laid off. Currently, no other state in the country holds employers accountable in this way.
Prompted by the wave of corporate bankruptcies in New Jersey and across the country in 2018 and 2019, activists with Make the Road New Jersey and former and current Sears, Payless, and Toys R Us employees who received little to no severance pay from their employer, said they organized with United for Respect and are holding Wall Street billionaires accountable for what they described as recklessness and greed that left thousands of families in economic crisis while CEOs and private equity firms received million-dollar bonuses.
While we always want our economy to thrive, we want to protect the workers who keep it churning no matter what happens.
– Sen. Joe Cryan
The groups with Sen. Joe Cryan’s, D-20th District, office over the last year and a half to educate legislators about the issue.
“Working people are the backbone of our economy and I’m proud to stand on the right side of history with them,” said Cryan. “The store closures prompted by Wall Street’s get-rich-quick tactics pushed thousands of New Jerseyans into financial crisis, and many are still struggling today. While we always want our economy to thrive, we want to protect the workers who keep it churning no matter what happens. That is why, at the very least, working families need to be able to count on severance pay to get back on their feet.”
“When I lost my job at Sears, I vowed to hold Wall Street accountable and make sure working people like me didn’t have to live the same awful experience I did,” said Bruce Miller, a United for Respect leader and former Sears employee. “When my store closed down I lost my career, my financial security, and I was left feeling unappreciated for all of the years I helped the company profit. Wall Street is recklessly saddling retailers with debt, running them to the ground, and fleeing with millions of dollars in their pocket while working people like me are left with nothing.
“I applaud New Jersey for stepping in where Wall Street and corporate CEOs are failing. Our elected officials are putting working families first,” he added.
Gov. Phil Murphy has 30 days to sign the Guaranteed Severance Pay Bill into law.