Newly-minted Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop is wading into workers’ rights, but seems to be of two minds.
On the bright side, he’s pushing to require any Jersey City company with over 10 employees to provide all full-time employees five sick days per year. If it secures passage, this measure would be the first of its kind in the Garden State, making Jersey City one of the most progressive cities in the country on this issue.
On the other hand, Mayor Fulop also wants new police hires – called “Special Reserve Officers” – to be prohibited from joining the police union or engaging in any collective bargaining. According to Fulop’s Public Safety Plan, these SROs would be involved with “parking complaints, traffic control, backing up other police units, walking patrols, crowd control, and processing of prisoners.” They’d be paid hourly and have none of the contractual rights of their full-time counterparts. Fulop’s plan indicates that these officers would be used “In addition to, rather than instead of” the existing police force, but it’s not clear what that means, since parking complaints, traffic control, backing up other police units, walking patrols, crowd control and processing of prisoners sound like things that must already be going on, assumedly by full-time, unionized police officers. One can only conclude that by offloading these duties onto hourly non-unionized officers, Jersey City will either shrink its full-time police force, or re-assign the officers currently performing those tasks to other duties within the department.
The irony here, of course, being that it seems doubtful the hourly SROs would qualify for Jersey City’s sick day mandate, leaving a two-tiered employment system within the Jersey City Police Department. What do you make of it all?