Author Archive: Rob Duffey

This week: A festival for progressives & progressive ideas

promoted by Rosi

This week something special is happening in New Jersey. Around the state, progressives are getting together for film screenings, parades, and panel discussions on hot topics of the day. It’s all part of the New Jersey Working Families Festival of Unexpected Ideas.

Click here to check out the schedule and sign up for any of the events.

We’ve got a fantastic slate of events taking place from Thursday through Sunday. It’s everything from a film screening by journalist, filmmaker and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas to a community forum on Chris Christie’s disastrous attack on Newark’s public schools.  

Why Newark’s working families aren’t with Jeffries

Most people following the Newark Mayor’s race heard last week’sbig newsthat one of Shavar Jeffries’ canvassers was arrested for allegedly starting a fire in the campaign bus of South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka.

The report was devastating — but it wasn’t even the worst news the Jeffries campaign had to grapple with last week. That honor goes to a new poll released by the Working Families Organization, which found Jeffries badly trailing Baraka, 28 to 51. More than that, the poll found Jeffries was losing support because he’s on the wrong side of one of the key issues of the mayoral race: protecting public education.  

It’s not just Newark

Promoted by Rosi. This is by Rob Duffey, Policy and Communications Coordinator for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance

Yesterday the Newark City Council passed a law that will allow nearly every single private sector worker in the city to earn paid sick days. It’s a huge victory for 38,000 workers (most of whom are low-income) but it also has significant implications for New Jersey and beyond. Here’s why:

Christie was irrelevant. One of the most pro-worker paid sick days laws in the country was passed right in Chris Christie’s New Jersey. The successes in Jersey City and now Newark, taken together with the minimum wage ballot initiative in November, show that progressives can still achieve their policy goals despite the power of Christie’s veto pen.  

A Governor Without a Mandate

On Tuesday Governor Christie managed to translate his personal popularity into a big electoral win for himself, but failed to show any coat-tails that might benefit his fellow Republicans or kill the minimum wage ballot initiative. That’s in no small part because, whatever personal popularity Christie enjoys, New Jersey voters simply don’t agree with him or his party on the big issues of the day.

Yesterday New Jersey Working Families released a new Election Day poll chartered from the Mellman Group showing that Christie hasn’t secured a public mandate for his agenda or his policies in a second term.  

Christie saved his biggest boondogle for last

Yesterday – just five days before the election – Governor Christie rolled out the single largest corporate tax break of his first term. Apparently saving the worst for last, he awarded $390 million in tax breaks to the developers of the supermall formerly known as Xanadu, now dubbed the ‘American Dream in the Meadowlands.’ The subsidy for Xanadu was first announced in 2011, but like almost every aspect of the famously troubled project it’s been stalled for years.

In some ways he’s done New Jersey voters a favor, summing up his entire failed economic development strategy in a single boondoggle just in time for Tuesday. Instead of investing in infrastructure & focusing on building strong, safe communities that would attract employers, Christie has repeatedly tried to bribe developers and multinational corporations to operate in New Jersey with billions in subsidies and targeted tax breaks. Including the ’American Dream’ grant, he’s doled out over $2.5 billion in tax credits and subsidies through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.  

The table gets turned on Chris Christie

promoted by Rosi

In last night’s debate Barbara Buono essentially told Chris Christie to own his record, warts and all. The sentiment should have been painfully familiar to Chris Christie; he spent most of his 2009 campaign demanding that Jon Corzine take responsibility for a state economy decimated by the global recession. He spent the rest of that 2009 race making outlandish promises on the issues voters say they care about most: property taxes and jobs.

Now Senator Buono is very appropriately calling Christie to account for the yawning gap between what he promised voters and what he’s actually delivered.  

Christie runs from his record on schools

This story should be shared with anyone believing the Christie administration lie that they’ve properly funded schools. Report by New York Federal Reserve Bank has the numbers that make the truth clear. Promoted by Rosi

Even by the standard of political advertisements, Governor Christie’s TV spots are a pieces of work. Whether it’s boasting about job creation at the same time the state is actually losing tens of thousands of jobs or bragging about balancing budgets when the state Constitution requires that all budgets be balanced, Christie has repeatedly tried to spin failures and take credit for things over which he has absolutely no control.

Among Christie’s more galling claims is that he funded public schools at higher levels than anyone other Governor. Christie famously cut $1.1 billion cut from public schools his first year in office while giving the state’s wealthiest residents $1 billion in tax cuts. Outrage from urban and suburban parents – and a command from the State Supreme Court – has forced him to restore part of the aid, but the Education Law Center still estimates that he’s underfunded education by roughly $5 billion since taking office.

Now economists at the New York Federal Reserve Bank have released a report showing that the damage from Governor Christie’s cuts went deeper than we’d previously thought – and that New Jersey’s schools continue to bleed.

A big win

Such a big step forward to ethical treatment of workers & customers. Promoted by Rosi

Last night Jersey City made a little bit of history.

In a 7-1 vote (with one abstention) the Jersey City Council passed legislation proposed by Mayor Steven Fulop that would let private sector employees earn sick time. It means that 30,000 Jersey City workers – many of them low-income workers, immigrants, women and people of color – will no longer risk getting fired every time they come down with the flu.

Earned sick days is one of the major progressive causes of the day, and it’s easy to see why. About 23% of all workers will either be fired or be threatened with layoffs because they got sick or they needed to care for a sick family member. Most good jobs provide paid sick days, so the burden falls disproportionately on the working poor and the most vulnerable.

Momentum for paid sick days has been building around the country. San Francisco passed paid sick days in 2007, and Connecticut and Seattle followed suit. This year Portland, Oregon and New York City joined their ranks. The issue became a lightning rod in New York City’s mayoral primary, and it’s arguable that Speaker Chris Quinn alienated much of the liberal support that pushed Bill de Blasio to victory when she held up an earned sick days bill for three years.

Progressive victories in the public interest have been few and far between these last four years in New Jersey. Chris Christie has consistently used his office to enrich the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. Good budgets that funded our schools and our safety net have been dissected with line-item vetoes – and good bills have been shot down altogether.

That’s (part) of what makes what happened last night in Jersey City so special. For those who couldn’t make it, it was a sight. Dozens of supporters filled the seats with signs saying, “Dunkin’ Donuts workers need sick days too!” A huge line of workers, small business owners, and policy experts waited to testify about how paid sick days is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. On the other side? A single business association leader who repeated the same sad song about how even the most benign and commonsense worker protections will destroy Jersey City’s economy and capitalism as we know it.

But this time, it was the people’s voices that were heard rather than the business lobbyists.  

A promising sign across the Hudson

Do you agree that Bill De Blasio’s NYC win might give courage to some New Jersey Democrats, who’ve run scared of Chris Christie? This is by Rob Duffey, Policy and Communications Coordinator for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance. Promoted by Rosi. Thoughts?

Yesterday unapologetically liberal candidate Bill de Blasio cinched the New York City Mayoral primary, and absent an upset will likely go on to win the general election. If you had told the pundits six weeks ago that Bill de Blasio wouldn’t just win the primary but hit the magic 40% necessary to avoid a runoff, most would have laughed in your face. It’s a major win, and it has real implications for progressive activists on both sides of the Hudson.

Jersey City takes a big step forward

Yesterday the New York Times broke some big, great news: next Wednesday the Jersey City City Council will consider legislation that would make it the first city in New Jersey – and the 6th city nationwide  to guarantee paid sick days for its residents.

Mayor Steven Fulop is showing real leadership here, and he’s giving Jersey City a lead role in a nationwide fight. This morning the Star-Ledger editorial board endorsed his proposal and argued that paid sick days — or as we like to call them, earned sick days — should be a ‘universal right’ for all workers.