Tag Archive: CWA

Hetty Rosenstein: We will fight you to our very last breath.

“It takes a special kind of carelessness and cruelty to be willing to burn down the American dream that my father worked so hard to achieve.”

From today’s pension rally in Trenton, CWA Organizing Director Hetty Rosenstein tells the story of her father – immigrant as an infant, WWII Marine veteran of the Marines, who went to college on the G.I. Bill and became a medical librarian who raised 4 kids on a public worker’s salary, enough to get a home. She tells the story of what he told his kids when he woke up in the middle of the night unable to feel his legs, and what he told his family as the ambulance came.

Remember the days when all Chris Christie got at “town halls” was adoring fans?

Here’s the scene outside Gov. Christie’s “town hall” the last hour in Old Bridge, NJ. We hear the protesters – who have paid sick leave and NJ honoring its pension obligations to its workers on their minds – have now been moved to a remote area of the parking lot.

Get ready, New Hampshire. The Christie Roadshow of BS is coming your way April 14. More photos on the jump page.

Protesters at Chris Christie town hall, Old Bridge NJ 4/7/15

Pen/Ben oral hearings underway in Trenton

4:15 pm: The hearing ended. There will be no decision today.

How do you think the judge will rule?

The battle lines are drawn today in court in a collective action for unpaid contributions owed to the state retirement systems. Plaintiffs seek to “enforce the State’s law and obligation to remit statutorily mandated unfunded accrued liability contributions.” Oral arguments were scheduled to commence at 10:00am.

Last year Judge Jacobson ruled at the end of the fiscal year that due to exigent circumstances (a revenue shortfall) Christie would be allowed to reduce his payment into the retirement system from $1.58 billion to $ 697 million. The hearing today focuses on Christie’s plan this year to pay only $681 million of the approximate total due of $2.25 billion. In allowing Christie to pay less than the full amount last year, the judge also found that workers were contractually entitled to full pension payments under the 2011 law enacted by the legislature and governor.

Today the judge might rule that this year the full amount is due or she might accept the governor’s argument that there are insufficient funds in the treasury to make a full payment. Legislators proposed a plan of revenue enhancement that would allow a full payment which Christie resisted. He has delayed announcing any solution to the problem and referred the matter to a commission which has yet to issue recommendations.

Plaintiffs include State Trooper organizations, CWA, AFL-CIO, NJEA, Firefighters, NJ Principals, and Probation Association, represented by their attorneys Leon Savetsky, Michael Bukowski, Leon Sokol and some eleven others. The Defendants are the State of New Jersey, Governor Christie and Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff represented by Jean Reilly and Robert Lougy from the office of the attorney general. The Judge is Mary C. Jacobson of the Superior Court, Mercer County.  

QoTD: Democrats in the NJ Legislature

Quote of the Day to CWA’s Legislative & Political Director, Seth Hahn:

For those keeping score at home, the Democrats in the New Jersey legislature had a busy schedule before they went home for the holidays. They muscled through a bill to make it easier to privatize municipal water infrastructure with no public input and fewer regulatory oversights and then they added a provision to a bill that could make it easier for private companies to develop for-profit ventures at Liberty State Park, which overlooks the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. They did not, however, have time to pass a statewide earned sick days measure, and the State Senate couldn’t even find time to give that bill a committee hearing. Cue 2015, where we’re about to get a lot of campaign literature about how they’re all just fighting for the common man and standing up for working families. [emphasis mine]

Daily Beast Article; How Public Sector Unions Divide the Democrats

A few days ago 12/29/2014 a article entitled How Public Sector Unions Divide the Democrats…..”Paying for all those pensions inevitably means less money for parks and schools. It’s a conundrum Democrats can no longer ignore.”  was posted on the website the daily beast. (Full Article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/a…

I think this is a good article to discuss for the meritts that that article proposes, and not blindly say “its not true” or I disagree.  There seems to be some valid points here, and not to defend 100% the Senate President and some of his colleagues with their pension reforms they passed in 2011, but maybe there was some merit to their thinking.  

The article makes a great point that Democrats particularly progressives wish to offer more services in the way of things like full day pre-k, free college education, sustainable procurement, and more, but these all come at a cost.  Unfortunately I don’t think it’s palatable for the public to consider a European approach with income tax rates around 30-40% to pay for public services, so we are left to decide what can we afford.   What has to give? Do we forgo much needed new services to pay for our obligations of the past?

Another point brought up is the concept of work rules, which I agree that there are protections that are provided to shield workers from political privy, but what about the basics of a managers right to change procedures to increase efficiency?  Do certain work rules get in the way of creating true change?

We can possibly see this in a national example of the President who came into office in 2009 with a lot of big idea’s, but in implementing those ideas some things like the healthcare exchange went wrong.  Could this be partly because of bureaucratic rules and procedures that would make anyone’s heads spin?  If so, were these rules created by managers stuck in the past or did they have more to do with the union contracts dictating work ratios and so on.

As I said in the beginning of my post, i’m not trying to skew things in one direction or another i’m only trying to have an open dialog on creating the balance of the Public Unions will and the needs of the people government is supposed to serve.  

Christie Gambled with Your Money and Lost. Again.

In a world where government revenue is shrinking and demands for services are increasing, state governments continue to look for ways to generate more income. One such method has been state lotteries, which have been around in their present form since the mid-’80s.

In spite of the fact that state lotteries are really a form of regressive taxation, they have become a popular and essential element of the state fiscal budgeting process. In New Jersey, they represent the fourth largest source of revenue. But that source has been decreasing over the past several years.

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that in the Garden State, the administration of the lottery is outsourced to a for-profit consortium, partially owned by foreign interests, that has been a solid donor to GOP political causes, including Chris Christie’s Republican Governor’s Association. And to add insult to injury, the firm that lobbied for this lucrative outsourcing scheme was Wolff & Samson – the same David Samson that’s embroiled in the Bridgegate scandal. Of course, back when this contract was being “competed”, as Seth Hahn – the political director of the CWA – points out, potential bidders knew about the Christie/Samson connection and probably figured it was not worth their effort to vie for this contract. Hahn said that “The M.O. of the Christie Administration is not to put good government first.” The consortium that eventually received the contract was the sole bidder.

Today, the Bloomberg News Service reported that instead of meeting its goal of a 7.4% increase in revenue, the privately-run New Jersey Lottery is facing a shortfall of 9.2%, or $24 million – money that is desperate needed by the state, whether it is for education, aid for the disabled, or one of Christie’s unnecessary senatorial elections.

Marge Caldwell-Wilson: Why would a former labor leader begrudge Trentonians sick time benefits?

On Election Day, one of the bright spots was the passage on the ballot in Montclair and Trenton of earned sick time – in Trenton by a whopping 85%. But right after the vote, what did North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson say?

“The problem with isolating Trenton, other bordering towns are not held to that mandate. My concern is that small employers may take their business to another town where they don’t have to give sick days.”

A few things to know about Marge Caldwell-Wilson. She was for a long time a public worker; a member and then president of CWA Local 1087. And she benefited from generous sick leave policies won by her union. Now she’s begrudging her own constituents more modest benefits.

Here’s how CWA State Director Hetty Rosenstein endorsed her – just 7 months ago.  

Thursday in Camden – Rally in Solidarity with Protesters in Ferguson

Ferguson and Camden; one hit hard with foreclosures, the other topping lists of poorest cities in America, with double the national poverty rate, and nearly triple that of surrounding Camden County. Both with police issues; Ferguson the national epicenter for police misconduct, Camden, with its police services in flux – entire department disbanded, new force brought in, with officers much whiter and from the suburbs and young recruits who didn’t know the people they patrol. There are issues of loss of community control in both, with schools in Camden and part of Ferguson under state control and moving toward privatization. And high-figure jobless rates in both, particularly for young black men.

Rally Thursday: I got the heads up of a rally tomorrow for people to express their solidarity with the protesters of Mike Brown’s death and the militaristic police crack down on his neighborhood after his death.

When: 1pm Thursday

Where: Camden City Hall park area, 520 Market St

Participants: Camden community, CWA and other union members, students, faith communities (organizers list, jump page)

Michael Brown’s home going service was Monday, the day he would have started college. Amid the grief of thousands present were clear calls to non-violent action. His great-uncle, Rev. Charles Ewing, spoke of a “cry from the ground, not just for Michael Brown but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for the Columbine massacre, for the black-on-black crime.”

Outside the church, thousands stood In the pews, family members of other black men killed by whites, including Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Emmett Till. Martin Luther King’s son and daughter, Martin Luther King III and Reverend Bernice King were there. (Here’s what you might not know about the service).

Michael Brown's father screams out
Mike Brown’s father screams out at his casket. Photo:AP

Shirk Week 2014

It’s Shark Week 2014 in the rest of the universe, it’s Shirk Week 2014 here in Jersey with this governor.

CWA produced this video, following Gov. Christie’s decision to try and ease himself out of the revenue crisis his poor economic policies brought us, pasting over his own failures with yet another self-serving “commission” (with bonus Reagan-think piece to impress 2016 GOP donors). Missing from this commission – of course – are any stakeholders in Christie’s unilateral decision to monkey with the pensions state workers have been paying into as agreed on for years. The group, hand-picked by Christie to deliver the result he demands, are in CWA’s estimation “super-wealthy people unlikely to have any clue as to what it means to live on a fixed-income.” Sounds about right. CWA demands the pension be fully funded, as promised, as required by law.

Here’s CWA’s take:

Christie didn’t only break his word when it came to funding the pension. He also broke the very law he signed and touted as a “major accomplishment.” Gone is the fanfare. Gone is the chest-thumping. And gone are the taxpayer-funded banners proclaiming the “Jersey Comeback.”