Camden coalition files petitions to force hiring transparency on large employers


Camden coalition files petitions to force hiring transparency on large employers

A local coalition filed petitions today to begin a legal process designed to force large employers in Camden to disclose their local hiring.

This filing by the Camden We Choose Coalition kicks off a process that will force Camden City Council to consider the measure. If the Council refuses to pass an ordinance that would mandate transparency for employers with 25 or more full-time employees, the provision will go before the voters in a November referendum.

The coalition, which includes the Camden Parents Union, the social justice advocacy organization Watu Moja, the New Jersey Working Families Party and other labor and advocacy partners, is committed to finally force transparency for the companies that received more than $1 billion to relocate to Camden.

“For too long, powerful special interests have used Camden as their riverfront playground, enjoying tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks while leaving the families living in Camden’s neighborhoods behind,” said Ronsha Dickerson, a longtime Camden advocate who circulated petitions to force consideration of this issue. “The ordinance we are proposing would mandate transparency and force accountability by demonstrating, once and for all, whether large employers have had a true impact on creating economic opportunities for Camden residents. We don’t need any more empty rhetoric– we need to see the real results of these tax credits for the people of Camden. Residents should have the opportunity to live and work in their city. This would have a dramatic impact on outcomes- ranging from health to education.”

The Camden We Choose Coalition is utilizing the initiative or referendum provision of a state law known as the Faulkner Act to force consideration of the proposal, which would mandate that employers in Camden with 25 or more full-time employees, or an equivalent number of part-time employees, disclose their local resident hiring.

After filing the petitions with the city clerk, the City Council will have several months to pass the proposed ordinance or negotiate a new version acceptable to advocates. If that fails to occur, then the ordinance would be put to the voters through a referendum appearing on the November ballot.

The filing comes after residents have heard years of promises from large employers, many of whom received tens of millions of dollars in state tax credits to relocate to Camden on the promise that they would revitalize underserved communities in one of the nation’s poorest cities.

Yet despite gleaming office towers rising on the waterfront, Camden businesses have, for years, failed to provide information about local hiring that would back up their claims that they have benefited working families and people of color as opposed to powerful corporate interests.

“There’s no reason why anyone on the Camden City Council would oppose greater transparency for large employers,” said Camden activist Ayinde B. Merrill. “It’s time for all the people who say they are acting in Camden’s best interest to begin providing the public with information that will help us judge whether pro-corporate policies actually trickled down to our families.”

“For years, the Camden County Democrats, led by George Norcross, have imposed a corruption tax on Camden families, while claiming they are great philanthropists. What a load of ridiculous nonsense. These corporations received more than a billion dollars in state subsidies — supposedly to bring jobs to a city that has long suffered from disinvestment and poverty, and we’re supposed to accept that without data? On what planet?” Said New Jersey Working Families State Director Sue Altman. “We are proud to work with City activists who have been demanding that corporations provide proof to back up their grandiose claims. If the tax break program was as good a deal for Camden as the Norcross brothers say it was, this commonsense measure should be adopted immediately.”

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