Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy have announced plans to create a “interstate task force” that would strengthen labor law enforcement in both states.

As the governors toured the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades’ Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia on April 13, they announced plans for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) and Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (PA L&I) to “root out illegal practices and hold bad actors accountable” by strengthening workplace standards in both states.

The governors said that wage theft (when workers are paid less than minimum wage, not paid overtime, or not allowed to take meal and rest breaks) and worker misclassification (when workers are incorrectly classified as independent contractors and denied employee benefits and protections) can be a problem that traverses state lines. Employers who use wage theft and/or worker misclassification will often continue the same illegal practices in adjoining states.

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“As neighboring states with a shared border and broad economic ties, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have a common interest in ensuring that workers enjoy the full protection of the rights and privileges to which they are entitled,” the two governors wrote in a joint letter. “Indeed, many employers operate in both states and, when they misclassify an employee or withhold earned wages, both states and the employees are harmed. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, we are committed to upholding the simple yet critical principles that one should be paid in full for their work and have unobstructed access to their rights.”

The proposed Pennsylvania-New Jersey task force is set to begin with both states, but the governors said they are interested in expanding the task forces’ labor enforcement efforts so they can also work with other states in the Northeast. 

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