Hotel workers in New Jersey are one step closer to having an additional measure of protection at work.

The Assembly unanimously (76-0) passed a bill Thursday that requires hotels to provide panic devices for housekeepers that alert security in case of an emergency. The state Senate, which unanimously approved similar legislation in January, will vote on the amended bill next week.

The legislation requires hotels with at least 100 rooms to equip employees performing housekeeping or room service duties, at no cost to the workers, with panic devices for their protection against inappropriate conduct by guests.

Unite Here Local 54, the labor union that represents nearly one-third of casino and hospitality workers in Atlantic City, was a driving force behind the legislation. There are nearly 2,000 housekeepers working in Atlantic City’s nine casino hotels.

“This is a bill that should not be controversial, and it’s not,” said Local 54 President Bob McDevitt. “It will go a long way to get (the workers) more security and more peace of mind on the job.”

Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, both D-Atlantic, were primary sponsors of the bill.

“It’s something that is going to do good for the whole state. Everyone is going to benefit from this,” Armato said Thursday afternoon following the vote. “When you can get a win-win like this for everybody, it’s a great day.”

Mazzeo said he “couldn’t help but hear” the euphoric reaction from Local 54 members who were in the gallery Thursday for the vote.

It’s always good to have them be part of the process,” he said. “They were lockstep with us all the way.”

State Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, was a primary sponsor of the upper chamber’s version.

“Listening to the serious safety concerns of our local families working in the hospitality industry, I reached across the aisle to build overwhelming bipartisan support to ensure we take every measure possible to protect our middle-class working men and women,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

Should the bill become law, New Jersey would be the first state to require such devices for hotel workers.

Hotels that do not comply can be fined up to $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each additional violation, according to the legislation.

Contact: 609-272-7222 ddanzis@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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