Tag Archive: arbitration

Legislature: Picking Up A Head of Steam

Keep the N in NJN

The Legislature had wanted to lead the negotiations with potential NJN buyers but in a compromise it was agreed that that the State Treasurer would have the power to negotiate a deal. The Legislature retains the right of approval, but likely will face a “take it or leave it” proposition from the governor who controls the money spigot. At least the governor has shown some degree of compromise. Senate President Stephen Sweeney said that NJN could get the additional funding it needs to stay on the air while lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie come up with a plan.” Nonetheless, this “Perils of Pauline” tale continues.

Arbitration Awards

Governor Christie, who has been pushing his “Tool Kit” as a solution to high property taxes, now is quoted in the hard copy Record (page 8) of today, as saying, “There’s no silver bullet to fix it.” Thank you Mr. Governor. Christie had wanted the arbitration cap to include pension and health benefit costs, over which local entities have little control. The cap compromise excludes these two costs, allows for increases above 2% in multiyear contracts if the overall increase does not exceed 2%, and calls for the limits to go away after three years. The governor secured less “wiggle room” to fudge the cost basis of the cap and a random selection of the arbitrators. As a result Police and firefighter union contracts would be limited to 2 percent annual pay increases if they seek arbitration, although arbitration is not even available in many municipalities.

The nexus between AC and horse-racing

In order to prevent war between the North and the South spilling out into the chambers of the legislature, those supporting initiatives for Atlantic City are also agreeing to benefits for the horse-racing industry. An Assembly committee yesterday voted to legalize casino internet gambling, including on-line poker, with the understanding that as much as $30 million in tax revenue would be used to subsidize horse-racing. Nearly a dozen bills designed to revive the state horse racing and Atlantic City casino industries drew bipartisan support in a key Assembly committee in Trenton on Thursday, as legislators raced to send many of the bills to Governor Christie’s desk before the end of the year.

Sweeney/Oliver win on Arbitration Reform

To all of the naysayers who want to overreact this is a lesson in patience.

Needed arbitration reform will occur and it will not be the Governors arbitration plan.

Pension and health care costs WILL NOT be part of the package.

There WILL BE  a sunset clause of 3 years.

There WILL BE  averaging of salaries.

Each time that Chrisite has been made to wait he has had to back off his original proposals.

Sweeney and Oliver did a great job on this issue.

…..now it will be interesting to see how they are still  attacked on this site!  

Christie Rejects Arbitration Proposals

Christie was the headliner in many papers today for his outright rejection of the Democrat’s arbitration reform proposals.  The Star Ledger was critical of the governor’s attitude –

http://blog.nj.com/njv_editori…

His typical behavior has created an interesting scenario.  Does Christie stand his ground and try and twist some democratic arms (besides the alliances he has forged with the pathetic Essex Dems) to ram through his own proposals?  Does Sweeney and Oliver hold their ground out of fear their core constituency will turn on them as primaries inch ever so closer??  Thus far the democrats have turned their backs to labor nearly as much as Christie has.  I suspect labor will be very energetic for the primaries and for the general in 2011.  Labor has been hammered by the Governor over the past year.  The governor’s policies and grandstanding has angered the NJEA, police and fire, CWA, ect..  Trade unions were already hurting because of the recession, Christie’s dumping of the ARC has amplified the number of trade labor members going on the dole.

Christie won the governorship because many union members voted their social values and ignored the endorsements of their respective unions.  Those votes are gone now, social values are going to take a back seat to pocketbooks.  I don’t know how much longer the Dem’s can ignor labor.  Often there will be splits between private and public sector unions.  That spilt is gone as well.

Labor is going to be unified, organized, and ready to spend some money as the primaries near.  Christie drew a line in the sand over this arbitration issue,  will the Dem’s push back on this one or let Christie win again?

The “Tool Kit” and the Legislature

On Thursday a somewhat tepid Assembly Bill 3393 cleared the Budget Committee and was scheduled for a floor vote yesterday, but something happened on the way to the chamber. Past Blue Jersey diaries and numerous articles have pointed out excesses in police and fire contract arbitration procedures which have led to high salaries. Governor Christie has been insisting that a hard cap is the only real way to control salaries for municipalities. The Democratic Assembly Monday appeared in disarray.

The Assembly bill provides measures to reduce such police and firemen arbitration excesses, but it does not include a cap. During a Statehouse news conference on Thursday, Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Louis Greenwald, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver set out their version of a program that would fix the system and allow for more “creativity” and “flexibility.” However, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said, “Assembly Bill 3393 is weak and offers nothing to reform this broken system,” Democratic Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said, “The Democrats’ attempt at reform does not go far enough,” and Cory Booker has long supported a hard cap. So between Governor Christie, mayors and county executives the bill is now in abeyance. The Democratic Assemblypersons need to regain their mojo. Also the fact that two of them are employees of DiVincenzo and others hold multiple government jobs further complicates the matter.

Christie has been goading the legislators to move more rapidly on his “Tool kit,” while they have insisted on a more measured pace. So far they seem to lack a coherent vision on how best to approach arbitration and the larger issue of reducing costs for municipalities. And now they face the ire of county and city leaders. After the vote was cancelled, Speaker Oliver said “The Assembly’s goal in advancing this bill was to at the very least begin an intelligent debate.” That’s OK, but hopefully Democratic legislators will soon get beyond debate and develop a clearer strategy.  

Although the issues involved are numerous, it is the police salaries which captured a lot of attention. To find out the median salary of police officers in your town, the number of officers there, and the per cent who make $100,000 or more scroll down on this page link. In Teaneck, for example,  the result is $97,486 – 93 – 33%. My County Executive McNerney has been a long-time supporter of sharing and consolidating services, but even this approach is not a complete solution and needs its own better tool kit.