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New Jersey Eyes Bill to Guarantee Severance Pay

February 18, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

TRENTON, N.J.—In the aftermath of mass layoffs at the bankrupt Toys ‘R’ Us and Sears retail chains, the New Jersey state legislature is now considering a law to require companies that lay off more than 50 workers at a time to give them severance pay. A bill recently introduced in the state Senate would set the minimum severance at one week of pay for every year of service, and increase the amount of notice employers have to give about mass layoffs from 60 to 90 days. “Not getting severance after you’ve been there so many years, it’s a punch in the gut,” former Sears auto technician Bruce Miller told the Huffington Post. Miller, 56, got eight weeks of severance pay when the Sears in Toms River, where he’d worked for 36 years, closed last year. The bill grew out of protests by Toys ‘R’ Us workers that won severance pay from the Wayne-based chain after it began closing last year. Their Rise Up Retail campaign is now targeting private equity firms and hedge funds that acquire retail chains and load them with unsustainable amounts of debt, as Bain Capital and KKR did with Toys ‘R’ Us in 2005. Read more

February 18, 2019

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