Hamilton Township is the Birthplace of the Modern Day Tactics of Union Busting
Well, to start, there is no Labor Day Parade in Hamilton Township, but that is merely a by-product of Labor unfriendly leadership within the Township.
Long before Chris Christie became Governor of New Jersey. Long before Wisconsin’s actions against Collective Bargaining. Long before John Boehner became Speaker of the House. Long before Republican Mitch McConnell became Senate Minority Leader…Hamilton Township has had John Bencivengo, Kevin Meara and Kelly Yaede hard at work busting up the Public Workers’ unions of the CWA, AFSCME and the PBA.
As we analyze what has happened in Hamilton Township it is as though Christie, Wisconsin and the Congressional Republicans ripped a page out of the Hamilton Republican’s playbook.
Claim a fiscal crisis and blame the public workers.
Bencivengo and team came into office by accident. On Election Day 2007, the Times of Trenton headlines screamed deficit and these three rode into office. http://nl.newsbank.com/nojavas… .
Since then, they have seized upon this deficit claim to justify a host of actions against the Township’s Public Workers, which they state were needed to save the money of Hamilton Township taxpayers.
With the backdrop set of “fiscal crisis” and historical deficit levels these three, along with the sitting Republicans on Township Council, began to work to bust up the CWA,
AFSCME and PBA workers.
What is remarkable is that they moved forward with tax hikes and public worker lay-offs and furloughs without ever having actually naming what this deficit amount was. They have said it was $10 million. Then they said it was $8.8 million and $14 million. Next they said it was $16 million. Finally, they said it was $5 million.
Below, in chronological order, are the links to the various deficit amount claims by the Republican incumbents.
http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file… (see page 16)
So, in 2008, the first thing that they set about doing was lay-off 54 public employees and reorganizing the Police Division.
In March 2010 they forced 8 furlough days on the remaining public workers in the Township. But in June 2010 they found the money to propose giving John Bencivengo a raise and to actually give significant raises to the non-Union Department Directors.
In 2010 they privatized the Engineering and Planning Department as well as the Ecological Center – further displacing public workers.
A further indication of their disregard for Public Workers and Collective Bargaining is that the Township’s Personnel Director is not an actual Personnel Director – lacking all Civil Service level requirements to hold such a position.
Bencivengo and the all Republican Council continually discuss how rising benefit costs are wrecking the Township’s budgets and that these costs need to be brought under control.
All of this is poor politics and pure political spin. The largest single increased cost to Township residents is the enormous increased spedning and probable waste i.e. HAMStat, the reckless and very “un-Republican” 2008 $13.3 million permanent Tax Hike that these elected officials gave to residents. A tax increase that they instituted without knowing what the true financial picture of the Township was.
The next largest burden on the Township has been decreased State aide followed by the State’s hijacking of the utility Gross Receipts tax then followed by the diminishing property tax receipts.
Yet, despite their cries about labor costs and benefits increasing so dramatically over the past four years they have still found themselves able to increase Township spending a cumulative $20 million.
Yes, there is a global recession. However, due in no small part of the $13.3 million annual tax hike, Hamilton Township has lost more revenue due to lost tax receipts from exodusing businesses and residents than what the increasing labor and benefit costs have been.
The Public Workers in Hamilton Township are hardworking and have sacrificed much for the betterment of the Township. Unfortunately, their sacrifices appear to be borne out of Bencivengo’s, Meara’s and Yasede’s generalizations as well as their insincere and unsubstantiated claims of fiscal crisis.