13 Major New Jersey Labor Leaders Send Letter to Legislative Leadership, Gov. Murphy, Calling For Expansion of Access to Drivers Licenses, Regardless of Immigration Status
13 Leaders of New Jersey Labor Unions Call for Swift Action to Pass Legislation A-4743/ S-3229 to Expand Access to Drivers Licenses
March 4, 2019, Newark, NJ — Thirteen leaders of major labor unions in New Jersey sent a letter to Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Governor Phil Murphy on Friday calling on the officials to pass A-4743/ S-3229, legislation that would expand access to drivers licenses to all qualified New Jersey drivers, regardless of immigration status. The bill would also create a two-track licenses system as the state moves to implement the federal REAL ID act. The legislation, introduced in December by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Senator Joe Vitale, has stalled in the Senate and Assembly.
The letter calls on the legislature to enact A-4743/S-3229 which will allow hundreds of thousands of New Jersey drivers to “engage more in the economic life of the state” and create safer roads in the Garden State. The labor leaders cited economic benefits to the state, including increased revenue for the state from new fees and registrations, as well as declining auto-insurance premiums as more drivers become insured. The letter notes that “New Jersey could expect anywhere between $5.2 million and $11.1 million in new revenue from these fees,” and increase residents’ spending power. Nearly a half million New Jerseyans are anticipated to be newly eligible for a license if A-4743/S-3229 becomes law.
Signatories to the letter include:
Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU Vice President and NJ District Director
Megan Chambers & Alberto Arroyo, Laundry, Distribution & Food Service Joint Board, Workers United/SEIU
Bill Granfield, President, Unite HERE Local 100
Ray Greaves, New Jersey Chairman, Amalgamated Transit Union
Charles Hall, Jr., President, RWDSU/UFCW Local 108
Barry Kushnir, President, IFPTE Local 194, NJ Turnpike Employees’ Union
Ken McNamara, President, CWA Local 1037
Wayne Richardson, President, Laborers Local 55
Hetty Rosenstein, President, CWA District 1
John Shinn, Director, United Steelworkers District 4
Milly Silva, Executive Vice President, 1199SEIU
Tom Walsh, President, RWDSU/UFCW Local 262
If A4743 and S3229 passes, New Jersey would be the 13th state to expand access to drivers licenses, following the likes of California, Utah, Washington, and the District of Columbia, which have successfully implemented similar expansions.
“We need to give people in our communities who are struggling to lift themselves out of poverty or to support themselves and their families, all the tools possible to be able to succeed, not limit their access to transportation that could enable them to get good, family sustaining jobs. For these workers who may be living paycheck to paycheck, access to a driver’s licenses is necessary to put food on the table and keep the lights on in their home. An alternative standard license that is accessible for all residents will keep New Jersey moving forward without anyone left out due to federal REAL ID Act requirements,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU Vice President and NJ District Director.
“New Jersey families, workers, and students have been waiting too long for this bill. We’ve seen the success of driver’s licenses for all in other states, and we want New Jersey to be the thirteenth state to follow. It means safer roads, more spending in the local economy, and more insured cars. We urge the legislature to move forward with this bill that will have long-lasting benefits that ripple throughout the state,” said Charles Hall Jr., President of RWDSU Local 108.
“New Jersey is stronger when we can drive our children to school, get to work safely, and provide for our families. These basic rights and privileges should be expanded to all. With licenses for undocumented people, we can look forward to legal drivers on the road and residents with increased spending power. This will make life easier for countless New Jerseyans who are attempting to live the American dream,” said John Shinn, Director of United Steelworkers, District 4.
“The Trump administration’s attempt to terminate TPS and DACA for thousands law-abiding immigrants in New Jersey makes it urgent that our state expand and secure access to driver’s licenses,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “Failing to do so would cause extreme hardship for many immigrant families whose livelihoods depend on being able to drive. This is not only a moral issue, but also a matter of basic public safety on our roads.”
“This bill is essential for working families and individuals in the state. In many New Jersey communities, it is very difficult to get to work without driving. By making it hard for residents to make it to work, we are all missing out on many economic and social developments. It is time for the New Jersey legislature to move forward with this bill,” said Wayne Richardson, President, Laborers Local 55.
“To keep a family-sustaining job here in New Jersey, workers need to be able to get there safely and legally. If it’s easier to get to work, we can count on more folks on the job. New Jerseyans, regardless of status, are already on the road, carrying out their routines to work, school, and supporting businesses. With this bill, all residents can do so legally and safely,” said Ray Greaves, NJ Chairman, Amalgamated Transit Union.
“For a stronger state economy and community, the ability to drive legally to work, school, and to the Garden State’s many offerings is an absolute must. Tested and insured drivers means safer roads and greater accountability. Here we have a policy that will increase state revenues without raising taxes. This bill will positively change the lives of thousands, who will now be paying insurance and licensing fees that will boost the economy,” said Tom Walsh, President of RWDSU Local 262.
The Let’s Drive NJ Campaign advocates for legislation to expand access to drivers licenses to all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status. Let’s Drive NJ is supported by more than eighty New Jersey based faith, labor and community organizations. More information about the campaign can be found at LetsDriveNJ.org.