If you cannot see the message, please click here
September 15, 2022
Follow NJGCA:

 Inside this issue
A Message From Your Association
  A Message From Your Association  
  A Message From Your Association  

New Guidance Available On Employee Marijuana Use 

Labor Shortages and Worker Participation

CARB Enhanced Vapor Recovery Upgrade & Deadline

New Inspection Program Information

Increasing Crime Involving Vehicles

NJGCA Signs Support for Swipe Fee Legislation

Info on Dues Renewals/NJGCA Office Move

Cannabis in the Workplace

After months of delay, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), the regulatory body that creates all the rules around legalized marijuana use, has finally come out with guidance for employers on what to do if they suspect employees are high on the job. You can read the full letter HERE. The guidance makes clear that a positive drug test alone is not enough to warrant "adverse employment action" (whether that be firing the employee or some other kind of punishment). This is because a drug test only shows that the employee used cannabis at some point in the recent past, it doesn't necessarily mean that they used it while on the job. However, a positive test result combined with evidence-based documentation of physical signs or other evidence of impairment during an employee's work hours is enough. The previous link will download a sample form approved by the State that you or a manager can go through if you suspect an employee is intoxicated while on the job. Make sure you are properly documenting these signs using the form to protect yourself from any attempt at a lawsuit by a terminated employee. 

The guidance also mentions a special certification course that will be in place in the future that employers will be able to designate an employee to receive certified education and training in detecting and identifying an employee's use and/or impairment from cannabis or another intoxicating substance, and for assisting in the investigation of workplace accidents. However, we don't know how far into the future this program will begin and become standard practice. Be on the lookout for more information on this in our next On the Road newsletter, out in October. 

Labor Shortages and Worker Participation

This week, NJGCA participated in a business coalition workshop that focused on finding and retaining qualified employees. The presenters cut across many different industries and labor markets, offering a variety of potential solutions. 

Officials from the US Chamber of Commerce also presented some eye-opening statistics on the current market, including: 

  • The current labor force participation rate is 62.1%
  • There are 3 million fewer Americans participating in the labor force today (as compared to February of 2020) -- a full 1% reduction.
  • Many individuals are seeking out remote work.  This has led to the "great reshuffling" as the workers leave their industries for those that are "work-from-home-friendly". This has harmed the retail, leisure, and hospitality industries the most.
  • Americans saved $2.7 trillion during the pandemic through government relief funds. This has led many workers to either live off those saved funds or only seek part-time work. 

You can read more on these findings by CLICKING HERE.

To combat this phenomenon, presenters offered some notable thoughts on how to widen the pool of potential employee candidates.

1 - "Disabled and neurodiverse" and senior-citizen candidates: Not every job opening requires the same skillset or capacities. Some candidates may have an existing physical or cognitive disability but are nevertheless perfect fit for an open position.  These candidates are typically very good at repetitive tasks, are relatively "affordable" to hire, and have a strong familial network to assist them (pick-up/drop-off at work, etc). What's more, as consumer prices climb, some senior-citizens and retirees are now re-entering the work force to supplement their income. In doing so, the labor market has seen an influx of older, dependable candidates that are seeking gainful employment. 

2 - "Second chance" candidates: Small business owners should be open to considering candidates with a "blemished" past. The limited labor participation rate could mean formerly incarcerated individuals may make an excellent addition to your shop.  These candidates should be hired on a case-by-case basis, and after an extensive interview process (listen to their personal stories, gain reassurance on their present challenges, and offer them employment if a good fit for your small business). There have been many successful examples of second chance candidates doing well in the market.  In fact, 81% of "second chance" employers responded that their newly hired workers preform the same or better than typical employees. Regardless of abilities or backgrounds, the workshop also offered up a number of additional suggestions on helping the right candidate -- and getting them to stay as your employee.  This includes: 

Transportation - Some candidates may be a great fit for your shop, but lack a means of getting to/from your location. Owners with this issue have made arrangements to have a new employee picked-up/dropped-off, or used technological solutions (i.e. Uber, Lyft, etc) to help get them to work. In many instances, the additional time/expense in accommodating a transportation short-fall was more "affordable" than paying another candidate a higher-wage or taking on a non-dependable employee that had their own transportation. Furthermore, those expenses consumed in offering transportation to the new hire could be tax off-set as a business expense. 

Hiring Bonuses - A number of small business owners found success in enticing new hires through sign-on bonuses.  This was typically done with some corresponding agreement to stay for a designated amount of time, or the funds would have to be re-imbursed (i.e. "$1,000 sign on bonus, but if you leave in less than a year, you must repay the bonus", etc).  

Positive Work Environment - As a means of keeping employees happy and elevating the work atmosphere, some owners had begun to offer weekly or bi-monthly events to show appreciation for their staff.  For example, one owner purchased lunch for the entire staff once a week, paid for a monthly happy hour (drinks, appetizers at a local restaurant), or a staff outing (bowling, minor league ball game trip, etc). These kinds of events build morale, keep employees motivated, and create a sense of comradery amongst staffers. 

Not every idea presented above may work for you and your small business.  However, this type of "outside thinking" may presenting a hiring solution and candidate identification that you may never have considered.  If you successfully implement one of these strategies, please let us know so we can share it with other members. 

CARB Enhanced Vapor Recovery Upgrade & Deadline

We were recently in contact with NJDEP officials concerning the forthcoming Enhanced Vapor Recovery ("EVR") upgrade mandate. This upgrade affects all locations with tanks installed prior to December 23, 2017.  Any tanks installed on/after December 23, 2017 are unaffected; and should have had these enhancements made at the time of installation. Those affected facilities must upgrade to new, full EVR requirement by December 23, 2024.

The upgraded system is a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Certified Phase 1 system, and includes enhanced rotatable fill adaptors, dust caps, spill buckets, hoses, and other requirements. Stations that do not upgrade their facility by December 23, 2024 may face fines or penalties for non-compliance.

In following the same mindset that forewarned the implementation of the Stage II Vacuum Assist Vapor Recovery decommissioning (which ended on December 23, 2020), NJGCA highly recommends that all affected stations comply with the upcoming mandates ahead of the deadline.  Those stations with tanks installed prior to December 23, 2017 should contact their compliance vendor to inquire about the updates and schedule their completion before the deadline. With both the end of Stage II and the credit card EMV upgrades, we saw a lot of people wait until the final few weeks before the deadline and they suffered for it with long waits and higher costs. 

If you have any questions, contact Nick at nick@njgca.org for more information. 

 New Motor Vehicle Inspection Program Information

NJGCA staff Eric Blomgren, Joe OCello, and Nick De Palma met with the new Chief Administrator of MVC, Trish Littles-Floyd, as well as other top staff members there to discuss the future of the inspection program and NJGCA involvement. It was a great meeting and we are happy to report that they are beginning to reform the inspection program, including making it easier to host trainings for inspector certifications. As we've said in the past, the State is moving forward with transitioning the inspection program to OPUS, away from Parsons. That means that there will be new equipment available in the near future. Stations will be able to choose between a laptop, desktop pc, or tablet in the new updated program, which will cost about $2,000. We will have more information as we get closer to the implementation date, the staff at MVC made it clear that their lines of communication are open with us. Remember, if you ever have any issues with inspections or anything related to MVC reach out to Nick at nick@njgca.org.

Vehicle Crimes

We want to remind you again about the crimes involving vehicles trending upward and continuing to be a huge problem throughout the state. Make sure you are keeping an eye on all the vehicles at your business as auto thefts are becoming a bigger problem. Just the other day there was an attempt to steal a car from the driveway of the neighbor of Governor Murphy. At the current pace, more than 17,000 vehicles will be stolen in New Jersey this year. Between this and catalytic converter thefts, cars have been a major target for rising crime. Even though we haven't heard about any of our member locations being targeted, it is still important to have security. If you do not have a video security system in place, contact our Member Benefit Partner Dan Goff at Able-Tech (abletech@verizon.net) to go over options on upgrading your business's security system. 

Swipe Fee Legislation

This week more than 200 merchant trade associations (including NJGCA) and nearly 1,700 companies called on Congress to support legislation that would finally bring more competition to the credit card market that is currently dominated by Visa and MasterCard. Swipe fees are especially difficult on the typical small business, as they have the narrowest profit margins and fewest resources and therefore are hit hardest by continuing unjustified increases in swipe fees. Swipe fees average over 2% of the transactions that banks and card networks charge merchants to process credit card transactions. Credit and debit card swipe fees have more than doubled over the past decade, up 25% last year to a record $137.8 billion. They are most merchants' highest operating cost after labor and drove up consumer prices by about $900 a year for the average family. NJGCA was proud to sign our support to this letter. 

Info on Dues Renewals

Just a reminder, all members who are scheduled to renew their membership will receive an email with an electronic invoice and a link to pay for it. When you go to the site to pay you will have to retrieve your logon information as it has changed from last year. You'll receive an email with the new logon credentials. 

When you pay the invoice, a confirmation email will be generated. Also, when you click on the "continue" link in the email, you will see the actual invoice with details and an option to print it or download it to your computer. For all other members renewing throughout 2022, this is the new procedure for billing and payment. It is important to check your emails on or about the first of the month of your renewal. Reminder invoices will also be sent out on or about the first of the month. Any questions or concerns can be addressed by emailing accounting@njgca.org.

Don't forget that our headquarters are moving this week to 615 Hope Road, Bldg. 2, 1st Floor, Eatontown, NJ. We ask everyone please update their records and note our new mailing address.

Be Well-

Your Association Staff



  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 615 Hope Road, Building 2, 1st Floor, Eatontown, NJ 07724

ASE Training Course - Reach Out Today!

Are you (or an employee) getting ready to take your A6, A8, or L1 in preparation to recertifying your Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through the State's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP)?  

We can help --- but we need to hear from you, first! 
NJGCA wants to hear from students interested in our ASE-prep training program, so we can gauge demand and schedule our next session series. 

As you know, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has always maintained a "dual-track" system to allow technicians to earn their Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through New Jersey's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP). In doing so, technicians were allowed to certify as ERTs through either an ASE-test track or an ETEP-educational class track. Starting on January 1, 2020, NJDEP amended the ETEP criteria, and the ETEP-educational class track was abolished.  

Today, only the ASE-test track remains, and all ERTs must certify or re-certify their credentials though ASE to remain in the Program. 

NJGCA has recently offered an ASE-prep class to help you get ready for the A6, A8, and L1. In doing so, students were welcome to participate in a ten-session preparatory class that covered material for all three ASE exams. We also had a handful of students who joined us only for the A8 or L1 sections.  

Once completed, students took their ASE exams with a local ASE-approved test proctor (NJGCA can train you to prepare for the ASE exams, but are not permitted to offer the actual exam - students must make these arrangements individually themselves). 

Building on that success, we are now seeking student participation in our next training series session. To make arrangements and organize a session, we need to hear from you! 

If you are interested, please email us at training@njgca.org ASAP. 

We'll record your interest, inquire on your availability, and schedule a class once we have a full complement of students.   

Only with your feedback can we gauge student headcount and participation.  

Please reach out to us today, and thank you for your interest! 

Contact Nick De Palma at Nick@njgca.org to inquire about potential trainings and class dates



  News Around The State  


Get Ready To Pay More For Heat

The cost of heating a house with natural gas is rising sharply this winter, ranging from $21 a month to as much as $31 per month, depending on which of the state's four gas utilities supply the fuel. In unanimously approving the provisional increases that are effective next month, New Jersey Board of Public Utility commissioners blamed global geopolitical events for the spike without mentioning the obvious - the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and its cutoff of most gas supplies to western Europe. Higher commodity prices also factored into why customers will pay more, as did increases in transmission costs on interstate pipelines. The four utilities do not make a profit on purchasing gas, only on delivering it to customers through their local distribution systems.


Affordable Care Act Health-Plan Premiums Set to Rise

Premiums for many Affordable Care Act health-insurance plans are set to rise sharply next year, a sign of how rising labor costs and other expenses are starting to ripple through the healthcare economy. Consumers, who generally can begin signing up for plans on Nov. 1, probably won't feel much impact because of enhanced federal subsidies, but small employers are likely to face the brunt of higher rates because they don't get similar government help, according to health-insurance specialists.


An Honest Look at EV Charging Demand Over the Next 10 Years

With $7.5 billion being invested by the federal government in EV charging infrastructure, it's important to ask some basic questions on the endeavor, such as how many chargers will be needed, as well as when, where and what type. John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, joined the NACS Convenience Matter podcast this week to talk about what the realistic demand for EV chargers looks like for the next 10 years. Eichberger explains that there are many reports about electric vehicles and how tremendous their impact will be on the U.S. economy, but the reality is much more complicated. The Fuels Institute recently released a report, "EV Charger Deployment Optimization" that discusses EV charging demand in the near future.


Gas Prices Still Falling In New Jersey

Gas prices have now declined for 13 straight weeks. It is the longest decline since 2018. The statewide average for a gallon of regular dropped a penny from Sunday to $3.70. After weeks of being much higher than the national average, New Jersey is now a penny below. AAA says New Jersey is among the 10 states with the biggest decline in the last week, down 13 cents a gallon.


FDA Makes 'Significant Progress' on Synthetic Nicotine PMTAs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is making "significant progress" in processing and reviewing non-tobacco nicotine product premarket applications. According to the agency, to date, all applications submitted by May 14 have been processed, and more than 85% have been reviewed to determine if they meet the minimum requirements to be accepted for further review. In total, FDA has issued refuse-to-accept (RTA) letters for more than 800,000 new non-tobacco nicotine (NTN) products in applications that do not meet the criteria for acceptance; this includes more than 700,000 new RTAs since August 3. The RTA letters state that it is illegal to sell or distribute in the U.S. marketplace any new tobacco product that has not received premarket authorization.


State Panel Gives N.J. Employers Option to Use Experts To Determine If Workers Are High

Long-awaited guidelines for employers on determining if workers are high on the job were issued Friday by the state agency regulating the new cannabis industry. A key recommendation says New Jersey employers can, but don't have to, use so-called Workplace Impairment Recognition Experts, or WIREs, when determining if an employee is high at work. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission on Friday issued guidance for workplaces as a first step toward what the agency said would be developing permanent standards for certifying the impairment experts.


How the Proposed Joint Employer Rule Impacts C-Stores

On September 6, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced its intention to re-write its joint employer rule, which is the rule that determines whether one company can be declared an employer of another company's worker(s). This is often most easily understood in the context of a franchisor/franchisee relationship, but in the convenience retailing world, even outside the franchise model, it can also include suppliers and/or contractors. If company A is determined to be a joint employer of company B's worker, company A could be held jointly liable for labor violations committed by company B and or possibly required to enter into collective bargaining with company B's workers.


Inflation Is Still High, Rising 8.3% in August

Inflation last month rose 8.3% over August 2021 but slowed slightly compared to 8.5% in July and 9.1% in June, reports the Wall Street Journal. However, when looking at the core consumer-price index, which excludes energy and food prices, inflation was up 6.3% year over year, and up sharply from 5.9% in both July and June. Month over month, the core Consumer Price Index rose 0.6% in August, which was double July's pace. Core inflation is closely watched by investors and policymakers because it can replace broad, underlying inflation and predict future inflation. Gasoline prices were down 10.6% in August, but high food prices, new vehicles, medical care, education, electricity and natural gas offset the drop in fueling up. Both food and new vehicle costs were up 0.8% in August over July.


N.J. Weighs Bringing Back Paper Bags As Unwanted Reusable Bags Pile Up

Tejada-Rivera joins many Garden State residents, whom since May 4 are finding they have a glut of reusable bags - either from shopping in-person or online orders - that they don't quite know what to do with. New Jersey's law bars grocery stores in the state from using any kind of single-use bags, be it paper or plastic. In-person shoppers can bring their own bags or buy reusable ones there. But most major grocery stores and Instacart - which hosts businesses like Wegmans, Kings, Aldi, Key Foods, and Save A Lot - package online orders in a fresh set of reusable bags every time, either providing them at no cost or charging for them with each order. "The only glitch so far that we've had (during the ban) is the fact that the home delivery of groceries has been interpreted to mean you have to do it in a reusable bag and what's happening is the number of these bags are accumulating with customers," state Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, co-sponsor of the bill to ban plastic bags, said over the phone. "We know it's a problem. We agree it's a problem."


Nearly 1,700 Merchants Call on Congress to Support Swipe Fee Legislation

More than 200 merchant trade associations and nearly 1,700 companies ranging from Main Street small businesses to national chains called on Congress this week to support legislation sponsored by Senators Richard Durbin and Roger Marshall that would finally bring badly needed competition to the credit card market. "This legislation introduced by Senator Durbin and Senator Marshall will bring much-needed competition into the United States credit card market, which has been dominated by only two players for far too long," the companies said in a letter on Tuesday. "As members of the retail community and champions of the free market, we typically do not support government intervention except in cases where a market is not functioning. That is the case with the credit card marketplace in the United States."


EPA Looks to Allow Year-Round Sale of E15

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking to enact a rule as quickly as possible that would allow the year-round sale of higher-ethanol gasoline, or E15, reports Reuters. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said during remarks at the Growth Energy Biofuels Summit that the agency hopes to finalize the rule before next summer. The agency has been in talks with Midwestern governors after they asked the EPA earlier this year to allow year-round sales of the blend. Eight states have officially asked the EPA for the change, after a successful legal challenge by oil refiners led to a court overturning an earlier Trump-era E15 rule, reports Bloomberg Government. The selling mandate of summer blends of gasoline during hotter months was enacted to reduce smog in warm weather, but research reportedly does not show that E15 blend produces more smog in relation to E10, which is sold at gas stations year-round.


Fact Check: When Will NJ Ban The Sale Of Gas-Powered Cars?

The state of California recently announced it will ban the sale of all gas-powered vehicles by 2035. While no announcement has been made so far, New Jersey may soon unveil a plan to do the exact same thing. According to Ray Cantor, the vice president of government affairs for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, this could cause a multitude of problems and the Garden State may not even have any say in the matter. New Jersey has opted into the California clean-air standards, which are stricter than the national standards. "We may not have any choice but to follow suit with California," Cantor said. hen it comes to new vehicle emission standards, states have the option of either following regulations set by the federal government or the stricter standards set by California. New Jersey is one of 16 states that have adopted the California standards.


U.S. Northeast Faces Potential Energy Shortages As Rails Start To Shut

Some trains carrying fuel components to the U.S. Northeast have been halted in preparation for a possible railroad shutdown in the coming days, two sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday. The northernmost East Coast states rely on railroad shipments to supplement pipeline deliveries from the U.S. Gulf. The region is among the largest fuel consumers in the nation, where U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that in July inventories of heating oil and diesel reached the lowest levels in at least three decades.



  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  

Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.



  Member Benefit Partner Message Board  







  Classifieds: For Sale and Help Wanted Ads  

Parts For Sale: Incon TS-1000 tank monitor works well just taken out of service. Printer is aprox 2 months old. Also, Incon 8, tank probes. System replaced because on an Exxon upgrade. Call John Twin Towers Exxon (201) 224-8444