State Sen. Loretta Weinberg has one piece of advice for any woman thinking about going on the Walk to Washington train trip: Go.
Weinberg (D-Teaneck) is leading the fight to change the toxic culture around Trenton — and the workplace in general — with a working group that is holding public hearings on the issue.
And, while the working group developed following a published report by New Jersey Advance Media that listed the major networking events — such as the Walk to Washington and the annual League of Municipalities convention — as areas where women have been harassed in the past, she is not advocating a boycott of the trip. Far from it.
“We have people on the working group who are going on the train,” she said. “Let’s start with that.
“I would think that people who view this as good for networking should go. I’m not suggesting anybody not go.”
Weinberg said she has been pleased with the response from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce regarding inappropriate behavior in the past.
“I think they’re taking this very seriously,” she said.
Chamber CEO and President Tom Bracken has made addressing the harassment that women face a top priority on the trip — and throughout the year.
The chamber will be enhancing security dramatically, he told ROI-NJ. Efforts include more security on the train and a number people can call in real time to deal with issues. The chamber, he said, will be ready.
“We will deal with every instance aggressively,” he said. “We will talk to the people who are supposedly the perpetrators immediately. And, if the people do not comply, we will not allow them to participate anymore on that trip. And there’s a possibility, if it’s egregious, we will ban them from any event going forward. That’s in our code of conduct.”
Weinberg said she’s confident the atmosphere on the trip will be better than ever before.
“I would venture a guess that this is probably going to be one of the safest trains to be on,” she said. “I would assume women are not going to have to worry about being groped and all the other unpleasant things that they sometimes have to put up with this year.”
Weinberg herself will not be on the train. That decision, however, was made long before the story came out.
“I’m not going on the trip, but that has nothing to do with the story. I’m not making a statement,” she said. “I hadn’t planned to go on the trip well before all of this came out. I’ve been many, many years, but, this year, I just had so much crowded on the calendar and I decided to skip the trip.
“I don’t want anybody to misconstrue that I was making any kind of a statement, because I’m not.”