TRENTON — New Jersey’s public labor union leaders say they are intently watching a case before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday that could strike down compulsory membership dues and threaten how they are funded. The outcome is of major consequence in the Garden State and about 20 other states where public workers are required to… Read the rest of this entry »Posted: January 11th, 2016 | Author: admin | Filed under: New Jersey, News | Tags: Communications Workers of America, CWA, Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey, Public Employee Unions, U.S. Supreme Court | Comments Off on N.J. public unions defend mandatory dues challenged in U.S. Supreme Court
By Art Gallagher
Yesterday afternoon on the LaRossa and Gallagher radio show I asked Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon how the $790 million dollar hole in Governor Christie’s proposed budget would be filled. Christie’s budget assumed $300 million in savings during the coming fiscal year from healtcare reform. The legislation likely to be passed in the Assembly only yields a savings of $10 million this year. Last month the State Supreme Court ruled that the state must spend $500 million more than Christie budgeted on Abbott district school spending.
O’Scanlon pointed to increased revenue projections and to yet to be determined savings from the new healthcare deal, but acknowledged that he and the other legislators crafting the budget have tough choices to make between now and June 30 when the budget must be passed.
June 30 is the deadline for the state budget to be enacted. June 30th is also the expiration date of the current union contracts for 48,000 state workers. Once the pension and benefits reforms are passed by the Assembly tomorrow, there will be an intense sprint to meet those deadlines in one week.
Mark Magyar, a former deputy policy chief in the Whitman administration and the policy director for the 2009 Daggett for Governor campaign,writing at NJ Spotlight, raises the possibility that Governor Christie could impose a new contract on the state workers.
The 1968 public employee collective bargaining law gives the governor and mayors the power to impose contracts on non-uniformed employees. Christie would be the first governor to use that power.
Magyar says that negotiations with the unions started late and have been on hold while Christie and the legislature worked on the pension and health carereforms. Christie has proposed a 3.5% pay cut.
I’ve been scratching by head trying to figure out why Christie and the Republicans in the legislature have been celebrating the health care reforms that only yield $10 million, rather than $300 million, in savings while the Democrats are waging a civil war over the deal.
O’Scanlon says the health care deal agreed to is not Reform In Name Only, that they will produce real savings over time. That might be true. But it seems like another kick the can down the road.
If Christie exercises his executive power to reduce the cost of government now by imposing union contracts that recover the savings given up the the health care deal we would know that we got real reform. Not delayed reform. That would be turning Trenton upside down.Posted: June 22nd, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Abbott Ruling, Chris Christie, Declan O'Scanlon, LaRossa and Gallagher, NJ State Legislature, NJ Supreme Court, Public Employee Unions | Tags: Abbott Ruling, Chris Christie, Declan O'Scanlon, LaRossa and Gallagher Radio Show, NJ Legislature, Public Employee Unions | 2 Comments »
If politics were a schoolyard fight, the most notorious bullies would be the leaders of the influential public sector unions. Their weapon of choice: the power to collectively bargain on behalf of their members, with absolutely no consideration for the taxpayers who actually pay the bills. The expedient alliance between the union leadership and politicians of both parties has built and enabled a system that has always been unfair, but today is unsustainable. Taxpayers have been beaten up for too long, with little to no help from the elected leaders whose job it is to protect the money used to finance government functions and services.
At the end of President Obama’s first year in office, the White House released a visitor’s log that identified a prominent union leader as its most frequent visitor. Andrew Stern, the president of the Services Employee Union International (SEIU) represented one of the country’s largest public employee unions. After his organization spent nearly $28 million to elect Barack Obama president in 2008, it was clear he would have a prominent voice inside the White House at a critical time.
Stern’s 22 listed visits came as the President was considering an auto bail-out that paid for the bad deals car companies made with the unions, the stimulus package that included payments to states to fulfill their obligations to public employees and a health care overhaul that ultimately exempted the unions’ “Cadillac health insurance plans” from the same mandates and scrutiny that every other American was subjected to.
In fact, of the over 200 entities that received temporary waivers from provisions in the new healthcare law, 45 were granted to union organizations. It is no wonder that the SEIU spent $44 million in the midterm elections in 2010, exclusively on behalf of congressional Democrats. Including spending by two other labor behemoths, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State Counties and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), big labor spent nearly $150 million dollars to preserve the Democrats majority in Congress. The taxpayers and an overwhelming majority of the American people had a different idea. With the results of the 2010 elections came a realization that the American people understood the challenges facing our states and nation better than most of the politicians and special interests that have dominated the political discourse for far too long. Newly elected reform minded governors, such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio, also benefited from the example of a fellow reformer elected a full year ahead of them, and who had made a decade’s worth of progress in addressing his own state’s challenges; Chris Christie.
These leaders are doing their part to change the way their states do business and are making the tough choices that can come with a significant political risk. The unions are doing their job fighting them every step of the way, attempting to use the bullying tactics and threats that have worked for them for so many decades. For example, the New Jersey Education Association collected roughly $100 million of dues from about 200,000 members last year. How are they spending this money? In a $300,000 per week radio campaign encouraging higher taxes instead of budget cuts. Luckily, the old rhetoric of unions is lost amid the greater noise coming from the taxpayer revolt. It’s that noise that has to continue and convert into a sustained campaign among the taxpayers to counter the voices of a very vocal, and frankly better organized, minority of union interests who have never been faced with the sort of political opposition we are seeing today. When we find political leaders with the courage to do what is right, we have an obligation to back them up, not just stand on the sideline watching them fight the fight for us. We all learn in school that the only way to discourage a bully is to stand up to him. We’ve all seen that Chris Christie has the will and the backbone to endure $300,000 a week of name-calling and taunts from the teachers unions. If we see the same from like-minded reformers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, and “we the people” stand with them, we will see the fundamental change we voted for in November, become a reality. If we stand by and allow these leaders to get overwhelmed by an opposition who believes that union workers should remain a privileged class, exempt from sharing the pain of a nation suffering a genuine crisis, than we would have no one to blame for our high taxes and dysfunctional government that ourselves.Posted: February 28th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Diane Gooch, Public Employee Unions | Tags: Diane Gooch, Public Employee Unions | 12 Comments »
Public Employee Unions and Tea Party activists held competing rallies in Trenton on Friday.
The Bayshore Tea Party Group’s co-chairman, Robert Gordon, is featured prominently at the 1 minute mark of this news clip from the rallies: