I have an apology to make. Recently, I compared one of New Jersey’s highest ranking Republicans, Assemblyman Jay Webber, to a heartless elitist.
That was wrong, and I apologize — to heartless elitists!
Let me explain how I can espouse such a seemingly disrespectful and openly hostile view.
If you are unemployed, know someone that is unemployed or fear that you may soon become unemployed – which is just about all of us – you’ll want to pay close attention.
The story starts when it is discovered that some employers are running help wanted ads that specifically state that unemployed persons are NOT welcome to apply for jobs at their company.
In other words these businesses are basically saying, “If you actually need a job, don’t even bother applying to our company because we’re not interested in you.”
Now I’m not sure how you would categorize a company that makes unemployed people feel like lepers, outcasts and losers, but I would call it obnoxious, disgusting and reprehensible.
And those are just the words that can be printed!
Anyway, back to the story.
Seems my colleague, Assemblyman Peter Barnes III, was equally disturbed by these seemingly discriminatory ads and decided to write a simple piece of legislation that would ban help wanted ads that prohibit unemployed persons from applying for jobs.
Well, the legislation (A-3359) came to the floor for a vote this past week, and guess who opposed this seemingly non-controversial and fair piece of legislation?
That would be Assemblyman Webber, who also happens to lead the state Republican Party.
Webber argued that the state would be sending the wrong message to businesses, and that it would be perceived as yet another regulation on a business community already burdened by this unprecedented economic downturn.
Assemblyman Webber, what about the message these types of ads would send to those that are unemployed?
Messages like: you’re damaged goods, you don’t merit consideration, jobs are not for the jobless, just for those already employed! How can you be so heartless? Of all the important pieces of legislation currently being debated in Trenton, this is the one you feel compelled to take a stand on?
Even more astounding is that 17 other Republicans sided with Webber and voted against this legislation, basically agreeing that it’s perfectly OK for businesses to publish ads that specifically tell unemployed job hunters they need not apply.
Thankfully, the Democratic majority in the General Assembly passed this bill and it will now go to the Senate, where I would expect passage by the Democratic majority in that chamber, as well.
Let’s see if Gov. Christie signs this bill into law or whether he will side with his ally Webber and thumb his nose at the unemployed residents of our state.
One thing is clear from this glaring example of insensitivity by New Jersey’s Republican leaders, whether it’s giving tax cuts to millionaires or condoning businesses that trash the unemployed, the GOP is not representing the interests of the vast majority of New Jersey residents.
It is also now apparent that when our state’s Republican leaders talk about creating jobs for New Jersey residents, those jobs aren’t necessarily for the jobless!
Lastly, I would like to apologize, once again, to any heartless elitists I may have offended by comparing them to Assemblyman Webber.
It was truly callous of me.