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Murphy discusses nurses strike, workers rights, Holloway at labor law conference on Cook campus

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) spoke to members of the National Labor Law Relations Board (NLRB) at a conference last week. – Photo by Adam Ahmadi

On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) gave a speech at the National Labor Law Relations Board (NLRB) Labor Law Conference at the New Jersey Law Center on Cook campus.

Outside the venue, dozens of striking nurses from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) held a picket line. The United Steelworkers (USW) Local 4-200, representing approximately 1,700 RWJUH nurses, have been on strike since July.

While taking the podium, Murphy encountered an attendee who said the governor had not been doing enough to end the strike.

"It's a little tough-spoken on both sides," Murphy said. "I've been very tough on the management (at RWJUH)."

Murphy went on to commend the striking nurses, along with recent successful strikes by unionized auto workers and actors. He credited some of these developments to the NLRB's efforts.

"The most effective, enduring solutions for balancing the needs of both workers, on the one hand, and industry leaders, on the other, are those rooted in sensible compromise," he said.

Murphy also referenced his administration's implementation of anti-misclassification policies for businesses in the state. He cited recent actions against Uber for misclassifying its workers as independent contractors in order to pay them less.

Murphy also discussed New Jersey's passing of the "Temporary Workers Bill of Rights," which set new guidelines and rights for temporary workers.

"If you want to do business in New Jersey, you have to treat workers fairly, or you will face stiff penalties," he said. "Or we will put you out of business."

Toward the end of his remarks, Murphy said that his administration's actions to protect workers have attracted more small businesses to the state. He said he believes the state's pro-labor actions reflect a greater trend across the country.

"Today, the American people, whether it's in the voting booth or in the boardroom, are coming together to reject what I would call 'outdated dogmas,'" he said.

After his speech, Murphy fielded questions from reporters, where he addressed the speech he gave in addition to the nurse's strike and other happenings in the state.

Murphy also gave one of his first public remarks about New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy's recently announced bid for the U.S. Senate, referencing her work on women's issues, climate and education.

Additionally, Murphy said that before his speech, it was the first time he had spoken to the striking nurses face-to-face since the strike began and would speak to them again before he left.

Speaking to reporters, Hummad Syed, a nurse at RWJUH, said Murphy had agreed to try and arrange a meeting.

Carol Tanzi, an RWJUH nurse who also spoke at the U.S. Senate Labor Committee field hearing on campus earlier this month, told The Daily Targum that her chapter of the USW would become more politically involved to help achieve their organization's goals.

"We're fighting for safe staffing," Tanzi said. "(Murphy) said he supported it before he was elected. Where is he now? We're politically smarter now … we will definitely be hitting the political angle."

When asked by the Targum about the Rutgers University Senate's vote of no confidence in University President Jonathan Holloway, Murphy spoke highly of Holloway.

"I think (Holloway) has done an outstanding job," Murphy said. "It ain't easy being a university president these days, as we've seen around the country, particularly over the last couple of months, but I'm a fan," he said.

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