S4204, legislation which would amend the ABC test for misclassification in the Unemployment Insurance and Temporary Disability Law, and expand it into NJ Wage and Hour laws was heard for the second time in the Senate Labor Committee yesterday. The Misclassification bill was first heard in November at start of the Lame Duck session, at that point, modeled on the controversial California AB5 legislation.
Phone calls and emails to legislators’ offices have been pouring in ever since. And in response to the massive, widespread opposition, the legislation was amended in the Assembly Labor Committee, though the amendments accomplish the same objectives, by other means.
So in an unusual procedural move, S4204 was then recommitted to Senate Labor for a re-hearing, and to adopt the Assembly changes. And this time, the workers themselves showed up to oppose the legislation, with several signing up to testify. The committee room was filled with an array of freelance journalists, graphic design artists with home-based businesses, teachers who do online tutoring in off-hours, and other workers in the gig economy.
Labor Committee Chairman Sen. Fred Madden heard from everyone who had signed up to testify, and the hearing lasted for four hours.
The Senate President opened the discussion, testifying to defend his bill against the onslaught of opposition, arguing that it simply “codified existing regulations.” NJCJI President Alida Kass was called up next, on a panel with three freelance journalists. Alida explained that the proposed legislation actually made substantive changes to existing law, that it codified the DOL’s controversial interpretation of existing law, which has thus far been losing in Appellate Division challenges, and that enacting a new statute would grant DOL new rulemaking authority to implement its interpretation which has been used to crush entrepreneurs and the innovation economy. Click here for a copy of NJCJI’s proposed amendments.
The legislation was released on a party-line vote, though even Democratic senators expressed concern and reservations about the proposal.
NJCJI continues to lead a coalition of trade associations, businesses, and freelance independent contract workers in opposition to the legislation.
A room has been reserved for a Press Conference on December 12th. Please reach out to Alida if you would like to join the coalition or to discuss further.