Jersey City moves forward with 30-hour work week for building service workers

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The Jersey City Council voted in favor of moving forward with a 30-hour week for building service employees, as well as approving a 90-day transition period for displaced workers.

“We need to regulate businesses who unnecessarily divide jobs into part time and who rely on tax payer dollars to subsidize their businesses to providing healthcare when their workers cannot make enough to support a decent life without public assistance,” addressed Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director of 32BJ SEIU and vice president of the union.

Brown was followed by several other union members who spoke about the importance of full-time jobs.

Jimmy Manzano, a building service worker and a 32BJ SEUI member, explained how he only worked four hours a day as a part-time employee and at times had to choose between having a meal at least once a day or making rent.

Jersey City Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano voted against the introduction of this ordinance, exclaiming “the way it sounds now, people are afraid. You have 20 people working in big building, 10 of them are going to lose their jobs. It’s a confusing ordinance.”

The introduction of this ordinance provides protection for building service workers such as a “janitor, building cleaner, concierge, porter, doorperson, building superintendent, armed or unarmed security guard (except on Saturday and/or Sunday), or handyperson.”

It will also prevent full-time building service jobs from being cut into part-time jobs to save businesses money on full-time salaries – as well as health benefits.

As a result of this ordinance, any employee terminated or displaced can take court action.

The Jersey City Council is aiming to make the 30-hour work week effective as of January 1, 2017.

It was a 6-2-1 vote with Ward D Councilman Michael Yun and Boggiano voting no and Councilwoman-at-Large Joyce Watterman abstaining.

The council also unanimously passed an ordinance for introduction mandating a transition period of 90 days for displaced workers for locations that are 150,000 square feet or more from a residential building or complex with more than 50 units.

Fanny Gramajo, also a 32BJ SEIU member, shared her story for being displaced for 15 months after working for 25 years as a building janitor.
“After one day, without notice, a new contractor took over and refused to hire me and other long time janitors,” she said.

The ordinance will be effective after 20 days of enactment.