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Grapevine: Newark ready for paid sick-leave

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Jersey City's run as the only municipality in New Jersey to have paid sick-leave legislation on the books will come to an end this week as Newark gets ready to pass its own.

One insider says a date of Dec. 4 has been floated as the day Newark will give it the green light. According to the city calendar, there is also a council meeting scheduled for that evening.

The bill, which is sponsored by city councilman and mayoral hopeful Anibal Ramos, was introduced on Oct. 30.

The Newark ordinance allows for both full- and part-time employees to earn up to one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. There is a cap at 40 hours per year for businesses with 10 or more employees or those that offer child care, food service or direct care.

Businesses with less than 10 employees will only be required to offer employees at least 24 hours of paid sick-leave per year.

The insider says to have the city passing its own bill while the state is still considering its own is troublesome. Currently, no other municipalities are known to be considering their own version of such a bill, the insider said.

"It's always better when things are done through the state, rather than piecemeal," the insider said.

Statewide battles on hold

Coming into the current lame duck legislative session, there appeared to be a good chance that a statewide paid sick-leave bill would be considered.

That doesn't look as likely anymore, one insider says.

"I honestly don't think this is something they plan on completing during lame duck," the insider said.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees), was introduced last spring. Most statewide business groups have already come out in opposition to the measure, as well as to similar bills that have been pushed forward at the municipal level in both Jersey City and Newark.

What's the holdup? The insider says legislators are wary of rushing the bill and are still gathering input.

"I don't think it's on the fast track," the insider said.

Add to that list ban-the-box legislation, which was also whispered to be coming up during lame duck.

The insider says they'll both most likely be ready to go in the next upcoming session.

Alcatel-Lucent hurt by numbers

Appealing as a Nokia acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent seemed, the Finnish mobile phone supplier's pursuit of a deal likely fizzled for simple economics, according to a source.

"Somebody must have run the numbers by and concluded there wasn't a payoff," said the source, who researches the telecommunications industry.

Such a marriage of arrivals appeared attractive on the surface. The source said it would have boosted Nokia's market share in western Europe and North America while providnig a big cash infusion for Alcatel Lucent, a French company with New Jersey operations that is undergoing restructuring.

For its part, Alcatel-Lucent is more expensive than a few months ago. Shares have more than doubled since July, when it sold for below $2 to more than $4 now, as investors seem to favorably view the company's restructuring.

Alcatel-Lucent declined to comment. The company has maintained it is moving ahead with its Shift Plan, which calls for a reduction in 10,000 jobs globally and $1.4 billion in operating expenses, while stepping up investment in cloud computing, Internet networking and broadband access.

The companies never engaged in formal talks, though Nokia was said to be interesetd in Alcatel-Lucent's IP-routing and high-speed wireless business, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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