Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

We Should Stand Up for Wage Fairness in America

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

We Should Stand Up for Wage Fairness in America

Article excerpt

Workers and their unions successfully organized for a national holiday to honor their important work in building America. Today, 123 years after the first Labor Day in 1894, we continue to celebrate Labor Day in honor of all the workers who are the economic drivers of New Jersey. From the baggage handler at Newark Liberty International Airport to the housekeeping staff in our hotels and offices to the nuclear-plant electrician in South Jersey, our workers represent the best of the state.

We must continue to have robust labor laws that ensure our workers are able to serve this state to their fullest. Early-20th-century labor unions won child-labor protections, the eight-hour work day, weekends, unemployment insurance and a minimum wage to guarantee a standard of living for American workers.

Later in the 20th century, we prohibited discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, required equal pay for equal work and protected workplace safety. Today, the fight continues for a fairer and more equal workplace for 21st-century workers.

My legislative colleagues and I have fought for the people of New Jersey so they can reach their full potential. We recognize that healthy workers are productive workers, and we must invest in them as much as we invest in industries. We have done this by passing legislation for paid family leave insurance and increasing the minimum wage. We have increased spending in workforce development programs and vocational training so our citizens have the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow.

Our work is not done, and, as state Senate president, I am committed to pushing forward an agenda that dignifies all of our workers. This includes raising the minimum wage so people do not have to work 60-plus hours to have barely enough to keep the lights on and put food on the table. It means having a paid family-leave insurance program that allows hardworking New Jerseyans the opportunity to take part in a program that reflects the 21st-century needs of families.

It also means that we must strengthen equal pay and wage theft laws so everyone is paid for the work they do.

Labor Day also reminds us of our commitment to an educated workforce. …

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