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TRENTON – In the wake of the rebuilding effort following Hurricane Sandy, Senator Ronald L. Rice, the Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, recently introduced legislation which would require that women and minorities in New Jersey receive equal employment opportunities when it comes to projects funded through federal disaster relief.
“As we pick up the pieces from one of the most devastating storms ever to hit New Jersey, we should treat the rebuilding effort as an opportunity to put people back to work, regardless of their race, creed, color or gender,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Historically, women and minorities have struggled for equal standing in our society and in the eyes of potential employers, and so we have crafted laws to preserve employment opportunities for them, particularly when government dollars are being spent. This bill extends that philosophy so that whenever the federal government grants New Jersey disaster relief aid – not just as a result of this storm, but moving forward into the future as well – that we give people an opportunity to earn a living.”
The bill, S-2431, extends an existing law, enacted in 2009, to ensure that women and minorities received equal employment opportunities with respect to the expenditure of economic recovery funds provided by the federal government as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This new bill would ensure the same equal opportunity employment standards would be applied whenever federal funds are received by the State in conjunction with a federal disaster declaration. The bill also establishes the Division of Public Contracts Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance within the State Department of Treasury to oversee the implementation of the provisions of this bill.
Senator Rice noted that minorities and women typically face higher unemployment and lower salaries than their white, male counterparts in the workplace.
“Whether it’s higher unemployment or it’s unequal pay for equal work, minorities and women in the workplace still face a variety of challenges, and need some kind of assurance that when jobs do come back to the State, that there will be a place for them as well,” said Senator Rice. “Particularly when you’re talking about rebuilding the public infrastructure with federal disaster relief, we need to make sure that women and minorities are getting an equal opportunity at those jobs. This is about creating a diverse workforce and making sure that women and minorities are not denied employment opportunities created by the need to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.”
The bill has been referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee for consideration.
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