Update:This post previously listed names of persons named as committee members by the author. Harvey Susswein and Jerry Kapner have stated that their names were included erroneously. All names other than the author have been removed Baristanet will only add names that have been confirmed by email.
On November 4th, Montclair will vote on a proposed ordinance requiring all private sector employers in Montclair to provide sick leave to their employees. While universal sick leave is a laudable goal, we have significant questions regarding this ordinance. While we are generally in support of passage of a sensible local or state law to address this important topic, the proposed ordinance is not sensible. Instead it is a canned version of an ordinance that the proposers have been seeking to enact in various jurisdictions throughout New Jersey as a precursor to the passage a state wide law. Montclair is being used as a pawn in a larger political game and this proposed ordinance is a part of that effort.
• Montclair residents have not had any input into the creation of the ordinance. It was proposed at the last minute by its drafters to the Council which did not act in time to prevent a legal loophole from placing the ordinance on the upcoming ballot. Most Montclair residents likely have not read the ordinance and are unaware of its existence nor of the fact that the Council cannot amend it for three years. Is this backdoor approach the way to pass legislation that will impact so many people? Wouldn’t it be better to allow the Council to study the bill, have public comment and then enact it if necessary?
• How is the town going to pay for the enforcement of this ordinance? Where does Montclair get the money to hire new employees or assign existing employees to audit local businesses? Who pays for their training? Who pays for production of auditing materials for employees to utilize when enforcing the ordinance? Who pays for the attorney to prosecute these cases in municipal court on behalf of the town?
• Montclair employers are being unfairly lumped together by the ordinance. Montclair has many businesses, some of which employ dozens of people, some of which employ only a single employee, but the ordinance treats each the same. The ordinance even covers babysitters, providing them with up to five paid sick days per year. A sensible ordinance would take the size of the employer into account. This one doesn’t.
• Montclair’s overburdened municipal court is required to hear all cases involving the proposed ordinance. There is a fine of $2,000.00 that the court can impose, not only for failure to provide sick leave but also for failure to provide the correct paperwork, which is greater than the current fine for not obtaining a building permit. Is it sensible to fine a family $2,000 for not having the proper paperwork for their babysitter when a dangerous worksite is only subject to a $500 fine?
The proposed sick leave ordinance is a complicated piece of legislation. It needs to be scrutinized carefully by our local government before it is enacted. The manner in which this law is currently proposed is not fair to the employers and the residents of Montclair. We are sure that after you read it you will agree that a “No” vote on the proposed sick leave ordinance is appropriate.