Gov. Chris Christie may claim in places like New Hampshire and Iowa that he has tamed New Jersey’s public employee unions, but you wouldn’t have known it from the smile on the face of one union’s leader.
“We had a terrific week,” said Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association, as his union gathered yesterday for its annual convention in Atlantic City. “Nobody can ruin this week for me.”
The NJEA was all in for the Democrats this year. For the first time in recent memory, the union did not endorse a single Republican. But the union also insisted that it wasn’t party affiliation that mattered. “We would have liked to endorse a Republican,” said Ginger Gold Schnitzer, the NJEA’s head of government relations and director of the NJEA’s PAC.
“The reason the Republicans weren’t endorsed was that none of them stood up and voted for the five-seventh pension payment,” she said, referring to the proposed $3.1 billion payment of five-seventh of the state’s obligation. “The rubber met the road on the pension payment. This election for the NJEA was very much about one thing: It was about candidates keeping promises.”
There might be one thing that could ruin this week for union leaders:
The realization that there is no money to make the type of pension payments that would sustain the current benefit structure and electing (or re-electing) a bunch of innumerate panderers won’t make that $160 billion+ magically appear.