Governor’s signature will keep promise to NJ ESPs

The Senate today voted to concur with the Assembly version of S-2303/A-4140, a bill to prohibit public employers from entering into subcontracting agreements during the term of an existing collective bargaining agreement. It’s a pro-collective bargaining bill that prevents unfair and bad-faith treatment of educational support professionals (ESPs), some the most valuable employees in New Jersey’s public schools.

Today’s 34-3 vote was expected. The bill has previously passed the Senate 32-2 on March 19 and the Assembly 65-7 on June 29. A minor difference between the versions passed by the two houses meant that they had to be reconciled so a single bill could go to the governor. Today’s vote accomplished that.

NJEA’s officers hailed the vote. “We are glad the Gov. Murphy will finally have the opportunity to keep a promise he made to our members as a candidate and on which he has never wavered in the many times he’s spoken to our essential school personnel since then,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “Our members have waited far too long to be shown the respect that this bill demonstrates, and we are glad that wait is nearly over. On behalf of all NJEA members, I thank Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, all of the bill sponsors, as well as the co-sponsors, and every legislator who voted yes for Job Justice on all three bills.”

NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller praised the determination and commitment of NJEA members to carry this bill across the finish line. “We have marched and called and lobbied and emailed for over two years to make sure that every elected official in Trenton knows how important this is,” said Spiller. “Our members deserve this fair protection, and we have worked hard to earn it.”

NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty highlighted the critical roles that ESPs, who will benefit from this law, are playing in the current challenging climate. “Our ESP members are always central to the success of our schools and that is more true now than ever,” said Beatty. “From preparing and delivering meals, to making sure our buildings will be safe when it’s time to return, to keeping everything running as we invent new ways to educate students, our schools could not function without our ESPs.”

Gov. Murphy has repeatedly pledged his support for this bill and a companion bill he signed on Aug. 14. The bill now goes to his desk for his signature, so it can become law. The previously signed companion Job Justice law provides due process rights to ESPs. He also previously signed into law a bill that lowers the cost of health insurance for public school employees while also saving money for taxpayers, districts and the state of New Jersey. All three were the focus of a two-year-long Job Justice campaign by NJEA members.

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