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(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Herb Conaway M.D. and Jack Conners sponsored in response to an abrupt closure of a major South Jersey employer that caught thousands of families off-guard and unprepared for new careers was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
“Working-class, blue-collar New Jerseyans are the foundation of our economy,” said Conaway (D-Burlington/Camden). “We must ensure that workers such as those affected by Jevic’s sudden shutdown do not fall into financial ruin while trying to transition to a new job or career.”
“Workers’ rights are violated every time a plant closes without little or no warning and families are left in the lurch without time to prepare for the futures,” said Conners (D-Camden/Burlington). “We need ensure that residents caught in the crosshairs of a closure have the ability to get right back on their feet.”
The Conaway-Conners bill (A-1923) stems from the sudden 2008 shutdown of the Delanco-based Jevic Transportation Company, which left approximately 1,700 workers jobless. Under the measure, workers displaced by a plant closing or mass layoff would be given access to job training courses at public and county colleges across New Jersey through the state’s tuition waiver program.
“Workers caught-up in a Jevic-like nightmare need to be able to provide for their families while they look at new opportunities,” said Conners.
“Workers should be given every opportunity to get the training they will need to compete in a tight job market,” said Conaway.
The bill provides increased opportunities to obtain tuition waivers for job training at all public and county colleges in the state.
The tuition waiver program currently restricts the number of available class slots for participants.
This bill eliminates classroom space restrictions for individuals affected by a plant closing, transfer of operations or mass layoff.
The bill also specifies that workers notified of a layoff due to a plant closing or transfer or a mass layoff are, even prior to an actual layoff, included in the definition of “qualified displaced worker” under the Workforce Development Partnership Program and therefore immediately eligible for training benefits under that program.
The bill was released 9-0 by the Assembly Labor Committee.