Governor Murphy Signs Bill Allowing Unions to File Wage Claims on Behalf of Workers

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed S-1438/A-5794, which allows unions to file wage claim suits on behalf of workers in certain projects if the workers belong to the union or are unaffiliated with any union. The bill incorporates a provision which allows a union to represent a worker, whether the worker belongs to the union or to no union at all, or a third party on a worker’s behalf in wage claim suits against contractors and subcontractors responsible for any debt owed for work performed for construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration, and maintenance projects.

“Every worker should be properly compensated for the work they undertake – no exceptions,” said Governor Murphy. “This bill allows unions to take up for those workers without representation seeking wage claims. Our administration will continue to respect, defend, and uphold workers’ rights and today’s action is just another step along the path to a fairer and more equitable state for all workers.”

“The legislation signed today by Governor Murphy is another example of why New Jersey is the best state in which to be a worker. This law provides another avenue on behalf of construction workers who are owed unpaid wages,” said Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. 

This bill will take effect immediately.

The prime sponsors of this bill are Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. The other primary sponsor is Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli.

“Receiving unpaid wages could mean the difference in whether a family has food on the table or is able to pay their rent. This law will create more avenues for the average worker to receive adequate representation during this hardship,” said Senator Singleton. “Many unions possess resources that would allow them to file and pursue wage claim suits more efficiently and in higher volume than the State could. This new law will allow more workers to take advantage of these resources.”

“This bill signifies a monumental shift in protecting worker’s rights, extending the reach of unions and ensuring that no worker is left behind in the pursuit for fair wages and just treatment,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “Unions being able to start wage claims could encourage employer compliance and potentially lessen the state's need to closely monitor and enforce these laws.”

“This legislation strengthens labor rights in New Jersey, encouraging a more unified and empowered workforce,” said Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli. “By enhancing the union’s role, we are extending their advocacy to a broader workforce and strengthening the support they can offer members and non-members. And a stronger workforce means a stronger economy but most importantly a stronger New Jersey.”

“As labor leaders we are proud to stand with Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature, codifying S1438/A5794. Granting labor unions the authority to champion wage claims for every worker, irrespective of union membership, embodies the ethos of solidarity, championing equitable rights for all within the workforce,” said Anthony Abrantes, Assistant Executive Secretary-Treasurer, of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.

"I applaud Governor Murphy and the bill's sponsors--Senator Singleton, Assemblywoman Quijano and Assemblyman Verrelli--for both addressing wage theft and also recognizing the role that unions play in protecting workers and upholding standards,” Mike Hellstrom, LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager. "This law gives workers additional support should they be denied the pay they earned on publicly-funded construction projects. It is good news for New Jersey, for law-abiding employers, and most of all, for workers."

To view the Governor’s signing statement on the bill, click here