Fulop ‘sick day’ proposal draws labor support; business groups reviewing plan
Mayor Steven Fulop will ask the City Council to consider an earned sick time measure that would allow employees at Jersey City-based businesses with 10 or more workers to earn up to five paid sick days a year. Employees of businesses with nine workers or less would accrue five unpaid days.
Employees would be able to use the days for care for themselves or an ailing family member in the event of an illness, medical emergency, or medical treatment.
The council could consider the proposal as early as this week.
“This is an issue that impacts the most vulnerable in our society and it is the right thing to do,” Fulop said in a press statement last week. “In New Jersey, some 1.2 million workers – that’s more than 1 in 3 of us – do not earn paid sick days.”
The proposal has already received strong support from labor groups. The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce said its members are still reviewing the plan.
“A worker should never have to choose between health and pay,” said Kevin Brown, state director of 32BJ SEIU. “Mayor Fulop…should be commended for introducing paid sick leave legislation to make our workforce healthier and more productive. Making sure that workers can take a day off when they are sick is one of the best ways to increase productivity and promote a healthy and welcoming work environment.”
Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action and a spokesperson for the statewide Time to Care Coalition, said, “Every worker should be able to recover from an illness or take care of a sick family member without risking their livelihoods. Mayor Fulop’s proposal will provide real economic security to many low-wage workers, and it will also protect the public health while strengthening the city’s economy as a whole. We look forward to working with the Mayor to make sure that the rights of all Jersey City’s workers are protected.” Small businesses are, however, concerned about what the proposal might mean for them.Maria L. Nieves, president and chief executive officer of the Hudson County Chamber of commerce told the Reporter, “We are still reviewing the proposal. We have asked our members to look at it and give us their feedback. Right now we don’t know enough about it and what impact it will have, so we have not taken an official position. But we are looking at similar proposals that have been considered in other cities and what the impact was there. There is some concern because there are costs associated with these kinds of proposals and, in general, we would rather see small businesses determine what works best for them, rather than having the government determine that for them.”
Fulop’s office, however, argued last week that without the ability to earn paid sick days, workers typically lose wages – and possibly even their jobs – when they get sick or require medical treatment.
“In Jersey City we know that a healthy employee is a more productive employee, which in turn generates more value,” Fulop said in a statement. “There is a strong business case for a minimum sick days standard; however, more and more businesses understand the value of providing good workplaces for their employees, including earned sick leave benefits. We want Jersey City to be business friendly, as is evident with our new tax abatement policy, but also working family friendly which is the goal of this legislation”
Homeless man dies at Journal Square
Activists who feed the homeless community that has sprung up around the Journal Square Transportation Center announced last Thursday that Keith Staggers, 44, passed away last week. According to activist Riaz Wahid, a member of the Jersey City Homeless Advocacy Group (JC-HAG), Staggers was admitted to Christ Hospital on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 4 and died there the next morning.
In recent years, Staggers was interviewed several times by the Reporter regarding homeless issues in the city and he was also featured in the 2012 Gerald Cameron/Felix Rodriguez documentary “Homeless not Helpless.” He is survived by his life partner, Yvette Wilson, who is known as “Mom” around Journal Square.
At press time Friday advocates from JC-HAG and Jersey City Peace Movement were planning a memorial for Staggers for Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at Journal Square. The Jersey City Asian Merchants Association planned to provide candles for the ceremony.
City to commemorate 9/11 by waterfront on Wednesday
In keeping with tradition, the 9/11 Memorial Committee and the city will remember those lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks this Wednesday with a ceremony that will begin at 8 a.m. the ceremony will include a tolling of a bell and a reading of names of Jersey City residents who died in the attacks. There will also be a musical performance.
The ceremony will take place at the city’s 9/11 memorial at the foot of Grand Street near the waterfront, which faces lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center site.
Former New Jersey Devils exec to be ‘senior advisor’ to Fulop
Robert Sommer, former communications director for the New Jersey Devils, will later this month start a $15,000 a year job as a senior advisor to Mayor Steven Fulop.
In an e-mailed statement sent during the religious holiday last week, the mayor did not specify on what matters Sommer would be advising him.
"He is a senior advisor who joins our team, which is amongst the best in the state, working to make Jersey City the leading mid-size city in the country," Fulop said. "Like many of our top level cabinet members, Bob has accepted a substantial pay cut to be part of an administration that is leading the state on many important issues."
Jersey City Police make arrest in Aug. shooting
Jersey City police officers from the newly created Shooting Response Team and the Gang/Narcotics Unit joined forces in an investigation that led to the arrest of a man who was wanted for allegedly shooting another man on Aug. 24.
According to a press release issued last week by the city, police arrested Jersey City resident Daniel Wilson, 22, and charged him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the shooting, which took place near Martin Luther King Drive and Forrest Street around 8 p.m.
“We continue to get solid results from the Shooting Response Team, the Gang/Narcotics squad, and all of our police officers,” said Acting Public Safety Director James R. Shea. “We are committed to the improved safety of Jersey City residents and will continue to use all means available to bring about positive results.”
Mayor Steven Fulop created the Shooting Response Team, a collection of seasoned detectives which investigates every non-fatal shooting in the city.
“Our Shooting Response Team has been an effective new tool working to gain critical intelligence to remove violent offenders from our city streets,” Fulop said in a press release issued by his office Tuesday. “It is this type of policing and cooperation that we are implementing at every level of the Police Department to enhance public safety for all of our residents.”
In recent weeks plain-clothed and uniformed officers have been conducting ongoing street operations, which have resulted in more than 200 arrests to date.
Citizenship classes at Main Branch Library
A series of citizenship classes will be offered beginning this month at the Main Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library, 472 Jersey Ave.
The five-week class will begin on Saturday, Sept. 21 and continue each Saturday through Oct. 26. The two-hour classes will begin each week at 10:30 a.m. The class is most suitable for people with intermediate-to-advanced English skills.
The class is free, but anyone who is interested in participating must pay a fee for course materials. To register, or for more information, call the Literacy Department at (201) 547-4518.
For those who miss this five-0week course, it will be offered several more times before the end of August 2014.
Mother of abandoned premature baby arrested in Jersey City
A 39-year-old Kensington Avenue woman was arrested Wednesday night and charged with endangering the welfare of a child and child abuse after allegedly leaving her three-pound newborn baby in a trash bag four days ago, according to a media report.
The premature baby boy was heard making noise by three teenagers who lived nearby. He was brought to Jersey City Medical Center and is currently doing fine in the neonatal unit, a hospital spokesman told NJ.com.
According to the story, “Detectives believe [the mother] gave birth to the baby boy in her home on Saturday. After birth, [the woman allegedly] discarded the baby in a plastic shopping bag with paper towels and toilet paper and discarded the baby behind an apartment building at 30 Kensington Ave.”
New Jersey has a “safe haven” law that allows parents to leave their infants in designated safe spaces, like hospitals or police stations, without the risk of arrest or prosecution.
The mother faced a court appearance last week.
NAMI Hudson County holding presentation
NAMI Hudson will hold a presentation, “Plan NJ” on Oct. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hoboken Community Mental Health Center, 506 3rd St. Parking is available behind the center.
Plan NJ (Planned Lifetime Network of NJ) is a non-profit organization that helps consumers and their families answer the question, “Who will care for my loved one when I am gone?” Plan NJ can help families with, monitoring, advocacy, guardianship, coaching, guidance, permanent repository, community and private trust administration, and benefits administration.
“Plan NJ can help with a one-time effort that will assist in helping with the financial, legal, and social resources needed for the consumer's future,” said Agnes Byrne of NAMI. “After the plan is created, there is an opportunity to update as needed.”
There is a cost involved, but it is within the reach of most families, according to Byrne. Financial assistance and scholarship may be available.
For more information, call Kristiana Kalab at (862) 754-6654 or NamiHudson@msn.com for more information.
The annual Groove on Grove summer concert series is sponsored by the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District, not the city of Jersey City, as was stated in the Reporter on Sept. 1.