In many states, legislative sessions have ended recently or are about to end and local governments are often active year-round. This means tons of legislation, both good and bad, is moving, providing opportunities for working families and their allies to pass laws that will help make people's lives easier or stop laws that will make things worse. Here is a look at some of the key state battles that recently have passed or could be on the agenda this week or next.
Amalgamated Bank, the largest majority union-owned bank in the United States, is teaming up with We Are One New Jersey to make it easier for aspiring Americans to apply for U.S. citizenship. The new program will offer short-term, low-interest loans to legal U.S. residents who are unable to afford the $680 citizenship application fee. Borrowers will be offered below market interest rates and will have six months to repay the loans. We Are One New Jersey will offer the loan applications at their centers in Hudson and Union counties in May.
The state’s second labor-supported immigrant advocacy center opened Tuesday, April 21, at the Jersey Gardens Mall, as the result of a unique partnership between Union County and We Are One New Jersey, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping more than 400,000 legal immigrants living and working in New Jersey become U.S. citizens.
Two labor legislators in New Jersey have shepherded a package of “Buy American” bills through the state legislature. The bills were approved by the state Assembly during the final voting session of 2014. The state Senate passed the jobs-creation package in June.
A record-size class of 37 rank-and-file union members, representing 23 local unions from across all sectors of the labor movement, took part in the 18th annual New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates School Aug. 9–10 at the Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center in New Brunswick.
On Saturday, Working Families United for New Jersey Inc. (WFUNJ) and the Essex-West Hudson Central Labor Council launched a new initiative, “One Pathway, Many Voices, Stronger Communities,” to help aspiring Americans become U.S. citizens, register to vote and learn how the electoral process works. The program also will help DREAMer students renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application.
Laurel Brennan, secretary-treasurer of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, received the Evangelina Menendez Trailblazer Award on March 30. The award is named for Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-N.J.) late mother and is given annually to New Jersey women for their outstanding contributions to the state and their advocacy on behalf of New Jerseyans.
When women succeed, America succeeds, and the union movement and its female leaders are poised to make this a reality.
Equal pay, access to paid sick and family leave and quality health care are just some of the issues women will tackle March 7–8 at the New Jersey State AFL-CIO's 11th annual Women in Leadership Development (WILD) conference in East Brunswick, N.J.