On Strike

As reported by the New Jersey Law Journal, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Nov. 14 vetoed legislation that would have broadened the ability of striking workers to collect unemployment benefits while they were off the job.

In his veto message to S2160, Christie said it was bad enough that the state’s current unemployment compensation statutes already allow for striking workers to collect benefits if their job actions do not “substantially curtail” the operation of their employers.

Christie said the bill “adds insult to injury” since its provisions were retroactive to April 10, when Verizon workers went on strike across the United States.

About 40,000 Verizon workers went on strike in April, and approximately 4,600 of those were in New Jersey. They returned to work in June after reaching a contract agreement with the communications giant.

“The unemployment compensation law should not be used as a tool to give labor organizations added leverage in labor negotiations,” Christie said. “Signing this bill would compromise not only the integrity of the unemployment compensation law but also the availability of funds for individuals who do not have the option to return to their jobs.”

Christie added that since he took office, he has been able to turn a $2.1 billion deficit in the Unemployment Trust Fund to surplus of $1.9 billion.

He suggested that the Legislature should instead amend the current law to bar any striking worker from receiving unemployment benefits.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

“The governor’s action is disappointing and a disservice to New Jersey workers who are forced to strike as a last resort in their pursuit of fair compensation and treatment during a labor dispute,” Vitale said in a statement. “His conditional veto not only guts the intent of the bill, but it leaves individuals vulnerable to poor employment practices.”

The bill passed both houses of the Legislature in votes split along party lines.

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Photo of Michael DeRose Michael DeRose

Michael P. DeRose is a shareholder at the firm and primarily focuses his practice in labor/ employment law and other aspects of civil litigation, such as contract disputes. He has litigated and tried hundreds of matters before the Superior Court of New Jersey…

Michael P. DeRose is a shareholder at the firm and primarily focuses his practice in labor/ employment law and other aspects of civil litigation, such as contract disputes. He has litigated and tried hundreds of matters before the Superior Court of New Jersey, the Office of Administrative Law and the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission on behalf of various labor unions and their members. Michael has extensive experience defending and fighting for members of law enforcement and other public employees facing adverse disciplinary action, such as termination or suspension from employment. He also frequently argues before New Jersey’s Appellate Division on behalf of his clients.

A large portion of his practice is also devoted to contract negotiations on behalf of union clients, representing such clients in grievance arbitration/ contract disputes, and otherwise advising union leaders on labor and employment matters.  Michael also has significant experience in the realm of interest arbitration on behalf of the firm’s law enforcement and firefighter unions. As a result of the firm’s robust labor and employment practice, Michael regularly appears before various state agencies, such as the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits, the State Health Benefits Commission, and NJ PERC. In addition to representing labor unions and active employees, Michael also represents retirees before the Division of Pensions in disability retirement applications, both ordinary and accidental disability retirement, in pension forfeiture actions, and in other miscellaneous pension disputes. He also counsels private business and their principals in contract and employment law, in addition to representing their interests in civil litigation. Michael has a track record of obtaining favorable outcomes for his clients and treats each everyone of them on an individual and particularized basis in accordance with their needs.

Before joining the firm in August of 2015, Michael was an associate counsel at a civil litigation firm out in Trenton, New Jersey, where he principally focused his practice around employment law and tort claims litigation. Prior to that, he served as a law clerk in the Superior Court of New Jersey for the Honorable F. Patrick McManimon, Mercer County Vicinage, from September of 2012 to August of 2013, where he attained significant experience in the realm of alternative dispute resolution having mediated well-over one-hundred cases, primarily related to commercial and residential landlord/ tenant disputes and contract/ business litigation. He earned his Juris Doctorate in 2012 after graduating from the Western Michigan University-Thomas M. Cooley School of Law. In 2007, he earned his Bachelor of the Arts in Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Kean University where he was a member of the Kean University baseball team and vice president of the Alpha Phi Sigma chapter of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.

Michael is admitted to the New Jersey State Bar, the United States Federal Court for the District of New Jersey, and is a member of the Mercer County Bar Association.