New Jersey Unions Blow It Again

They negotiated pension reforms and Christie reneged so unions representing New Jersey public employees sued and rallied this week, which is fine, but then the decision was made somewhere to suggest solutions:

More than 500 shop stewards represented by the Communications Workers of America, the largest state worker union in New Jersey, descended on the Statehouse to call instead for a series of tax increases to balance the budget. Hetty Rosenstein, the state director for CWA, said it should have been “Plan A” all along.

“The governor of the state of New Jersey, blithely and carelessly said a day ago that there was no Plan B, other than to not pay for the legally and morally committed pension plans for hundreds of thousands of workers and their families,” Rosenstein said at the rally.

“He said that as if he was deciding to stop paying into the Wine of the Month Club — can’t afford it, gotta let it go,” she said.

Rosenstein called for raising the marginal tax rate on income above $400,000, a surcharge on corporate taxes, and an alternative minimum tax. Among other measures, Christie should also freeze tax incentive programs, which have been ramped up dramatically under his administration, and consider raising the state’s gas tax or impose a new tax on refineries, union leaders said.

Thus alienating the public support they rightly deserve in this dispute even though (a) it is not their job to worry where the money would be coming from and (b) if it were there are far more obvious targets.

If the unions insist on being proactive why don’t they:

  1. publicize the sweetheart deals and political payoffs that their members must surely be aware go on?
  2. demand campaign finance reform instead of upping antes by being dealt into these games?
  3. challenge those bogus numbers the actuaries keep coming up with?

That would be real public service and maybe worth the tax money they are already getting.


20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on June 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Hey John the unions and politicians may be working together to steal money. Have you ever considered that as truth. They do a great job of making you think they are against one another, however they have the same objective which is to take as much money as possible from union members and taxpayers and offer absolutely the minimum in service.


    • Not so much working together as staying silent as each rake in their spoils which is a shame for the unions since their people can lay claim to some productivity, yet they tolerate this dysfunctional political system gobbling up ever more tax money in the mistaken belief that there will always be more to tax.


  2. Posted by Anonymous on June 15, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Even though you state the unions should not worry about where the money is coming from, you have also mentioned in the past that the unions should have been proactive about the state’s failure to properly fund the pensions.
    In 2003, the unions did bring suit to compel funding of the pensions and they lost. Gov. Christie then convinced the democratic legislature (actually Norcross directed them) to terminate COLAs, but provide a contractual right to funding.
    Christie now has broken both the law and his own hyped up legislative achievement and suffers little or no political fall out. I understand your point in this blog entry, but I don’t understand what the unions are to do, besides bringing suit again. No one in the public cares about unions or government employees when the U6 is still above 12%.


    • This goes back to 1997 with Christie Whitman’s inception of contribution holidays and the NJEA sued only to be told that they needn’t worry how the plan was funded as long as their benefits were paid. Unfortunately there is no methodology to revisit a decided case (even one where the underlying assumptions were bogus) so we are where we are and the unions should stop using the same old procedures.

      My three points in the blog are the best they can do for their members right now. It’s probably too late (the plans can’t even pay 50% of what it owes retirees) but if they stop suggesting tax increases and work with, instead of against, taxpayers it would get a lot of more people on their side.


      • Posted by Tough Love on June 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        To all you “Anonymous” commentators,

        Read john’s last sentence above until it finally sinks in.


        • Posted by Anonymous on June 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm

          With all due respect John, having all the people on our side will do absolutely nothing. The politicians are the only people who can help us Taxpayers are treated poorly and always will be just like we are and the politicians have turned everyone against each other to weaken us, they know there is strength in numbers.


          • This may only be wild conjecture but if the unions would follow my advice in this post I get the feeling they would have a ton more of the public behind them and that majority, if worked right, would make a difference. The politicians don’t help you. As they’ve shown over and over, they use you.

          • Posted by Tough Love on June 15, 2014 at 7:49 pm


            Unless the Unions can continue the ridiculous charade that their pensions are “modest” and they are “working class” (when in fact, they are the new Union/Politician created ROYALTY), they will NOT get the public behind them until they are AT LEAST willing to HALVE their pension accrual rate for the FUTURE service of all CURRENT workers, raise the MINIMUM retirement age for all CURRENT workers to 62 (with full actuarial reduction for earlier retirement), AND give up 75% of promised retiree healthcare benefits.

            And for anyone who believes that they would be willing to do so, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  3. […] Source: New Jersey Unions Blow It Again […]


  4. Posted by Tough Love on June 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Quoting … ““The governor of the state of New Jersey, blithely and carelessly said a day ago that there was no Plan B, other than to not pay for the legally and morally committed pension plans for hundreds of thousands of workers and their families,” Rosenstein said at the rally.”

    Well Ok but Ms. Rosenstein should rightfully add that they darn well deserve those pensions after spending so much Union money in campaign contributions to BUY the favorable votes of our elected grant these grossly excessive the first place.


    • Posted by Anonymous on June 15, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      TL you are a coward and a fake as you do nothing of consequence. You only spout off where it does no good at all.


  5. They still will need more money.

    It’s a lousy situation for the state to be in. It had moderate taxes (as a share of its residents’ high average incomes) and expansive public services (and graft) for decades, all funded by rising debts and deferred pension costs.

    Now someone has to tell current and future New Jersey residents, businesses and public employees that they will be screwed to make up for the great deal that others gave themselves in the past. No one is lining up for the job, including tough guy Christie. They just want to close their eyes.

    This denial of the generational ripoff is going on all over the country, and goes way beyond public employee pensions.


  6. Posted by Tough Love on June 16, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Quoting ….”Now someone has to tell current and future New Jersey residents, businesses and public employees that they will be screwed to make up for the great deal that others gave themselves in the past.”

    Note the word “past” in the above quote.

    That’s why, IN ADDITION TO (the no-brainer) that the FUTURE Service Public Sector pension accrual rate for all CURRENT workers should be materially reduced by AT LEAST 50+% ….. we must also keep on the table reductions for (the grossly excessive, negotiated in bad faith, and with NOBODY looking out for Taxpayer interests) PAST service accruals of BOTH current actives and those already retired.

    Greed and avarice towards the Taxpayers HAS consequences !


  7. I am no longer sure what public unions stand for or what is their mission statement, but the crumbling conditions at Trenton High School leave little doubt as to what unions leave behind when public money goes to pensions instead of infrastructure. It’s like the scene in “Goodfellas” when the mob guys acquire a restaurant as a favor to a friend. They run it into the ground and put it into as much debt as possible, and then burn it down when no more money can be squeezed out of it. Union members drive over the same crumbling bridges as the rest of us but maybe they really do believe that taxpayer money never runs out.


    • Posted by Tough Love on June 17, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Yes, the Union members drive over the same crumbling bridges, but while the Taxpayers debt grows and grows, so does (in a grossly excessive way) the Public Sector pensions and benefit promises to those same workers.

      And many, when they retire, will look at the “crumbling” conditions (not wanting their grandchildren to attend such horrible conditions, will pack their bags, their pensions, and, their benefits and move away …. leaving even more debt for the real suckers of the Union/Politician collusion …. the Private Sector Taxpayers.

      Well, dear taxpayers …. you should REFUSE to further fund these absurdly generous pensions and benefits. NOTHING more in PUBLIC Sector pensions & benefits than what YOU get from YOUR employer…. likely 1/4-1/3 of of what our self-serving, campaign-ontribution-soliciting, Taxpayer-betraying elected officials have granted these Union thugs in pensions & benefits.


  8. Posted by LGreene on June 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    YOU stated: (a) it is not their job to worry where the money would be coming from and (b) if it were there are far more obvious targets….

    I agree with you, so what are the far more obvious targets, and who should be focusing on them?


    • Those 3 points above pretty well cover it. All that money being pumped into political campaigns gets repaid 100 times over with low-show jobs with benefits and inflated contracts for services. Public workers are in an ideal position to see the waste from the inside but they mostly keep quiet for fear of retribution and a naive belief that the pensions they are being promised are not going to be affected in any way by the waste they see all around them.


  9. Posted by Tough Love on June 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    John, your response was right on the money, a perfect example being the residential/golf course, etc. Meadowlands fiasco of a few years back.

    But THAT money … from the lawyers, the architects, the engineers, the developers …. while REAL costly in wasteful expenditures chargeable to the Taxpayers Taxpayers is likely less well than 5% of the wasteful and UNNECESSARY cost of the promises made to ALL of NJ’s Public Sector workers in the form of unnecessary (to attract and retain a qualified workforce), unjust (to Taxpayers), and grossly excessive pensions & benefits.

    While cleaning up the smaller and moderate cost waste is a great goal (and will free up funds to pay for appropriate expenditures), we must remain focused on the BIGGEST-Ticket items, and without doubt, at the top of that list are NJ’s excessive Public Sector pensions & benefits.


  10. Posted by fouls123 on December 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    This is all baloney. The simple solution is to return tax rates to pre 1993 levels across the board and for the state to meet its obligations. It is as simple as that. The state was doing fine then and taxpayers were not overburdened. I was fine with rates then and I would be fine if the rates were raised back to those levels. Most of the increases would be on the top earners who reaped the benefits of the whitman tax cuts. most new jerseans would not see that much of a tax hike. It is a siple solution, but the greedy millionaires refuse to pay a single dime more in taxes even though they would barely miss it. Stop whining and agree that the state must meet its legal obligations.


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