July 2, 2014

Princeton Is Only the Second Municipality in N.J. To Reinforce Wage-Theft Laws in Local Ordinance

To the Editor:

I want to thank you for your comprehensive and even-handed coverage of efforts by the Princeton Human Services Commission and the Princeton Council to address wage theft through our landscapers ordinance. The issue of wage theft is a complex one involving state and federal laws, and Princeton has taken an innovative approach, as only the second municipality in New Jersey to incorporate provisions that reinforce these laws in a local ordinance. Your thoughtful coverage helped to educate the public of the importance of this issue to Princeton and New Jersey.

I also want to thank the Princeton Council for unanimously supporting the amended ordinance, and particularly Councilwoman Heather Howard for shepherding the amendments. It is wonderful to see such collaboration between citizen volunteers and their elected officials. Your readers should also know that Princeton’s Police Department under the leadership of Chief Sutter, and the Human Services Commission, with assistance from New Labor (a workers’ rights organization) have been conducting a series of outreach meetings with low income and immigrant workers at churches and places where they congregate to look for work. These meetings alerted us to the need for wage theft protection — albeit from a small minority of employers — as well as other significant issues to this community. We also received valuable input from the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which has been assisting immigrants in Trenton and Princeton for many years.

John Heilner

Chair, Immigration Issues Subcommittee,

Princeton Human Services Commission