Tag Archive: unions

That’s “Big” Money?

This is what the local press gets excited about these days:

Democratic governors are breaking in a new SuperPAC by attacking one of their most prominent Republican colleagues, Gov. Chris Christie.

DGA Action, a group run by the Democratic Governors Association that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, is running ads on the Internet needling Christie. And it doesn’t plan to stop the campaign it began in April anytime soon.

So far the organization has spent $1,000 in media markets “in and around New Jersey,” according to a spokeswoman for the organization – a pittance compared with the millions of dollars spent by an advocacy group on behalf of Christie.

$1000!?! OMG!!! Will the torrent of special interest money never cease?!!

Of course, we know who’s to blame:

A Christie spokesman, Michael Drewniak, called the ad campaign “ridiculous” and noted that DGA Action’s biggest donors are national teacher unions – longtime opponents of a governor who has curbed union benefits in an effort to dig New Jersey’s finances out of the hole.

Records from the Federal Election Commission show that the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers each gave DGA Action $250,000 in May, the largest contributions on record.

Damn those teachers and their $1000 on-line ad campaigns! What will we tell the children?

Of course, direct spending on the 2009 governor’s race topped $52 million. A pro-Christie PAC, the Committee For Our Children’s Future (these guys really have no shame, do they?), has already spent millions this year putting out ads FactCheck.org calls “misleading.” And that’s separate from the Reform Jersey Now slush fund Christie supporters used early in his term.

But yes, by all means, let’s get to the bottom of that $1000 on-line ad campaign!

As Dr. Evil learned, sometimes a little perspective is required:

Why I Support Eliminating Sick Day Payouts

Yeah, I back the idea of eliminating sick day payouts.  Not for the reason Steve Sweeney or Chris Christie are, to save money, but I do think it’s a good idea.  

Before I go any further, I agree with Jersey Jazzman that there should be some tat for this tit.  As I said the Sweeney-Christie team are looking to reduce government costs, but I don’t think that should be done on the backs of workers.

But sick days are necessary to the health of the employees, the health of the various governments and the health of the state.  

More below the fold.

Why I Am Against the Sweeney Sick Day Plan

NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney unveiled a plan today to completely do away with unused sick day payouts:

Democrats had previously wanted to cap sick leave pay for future accumulated unused days at $15,000, then offered to lower the cap to $7,500. But Christie has been steadfast to his opposition to any compromise, lambasting the Democrats’ proposals telling town hall gatherings “zero means zero.”

Under Sweeney’s proposal, payouts for unused sick leave would be limited to what workers have already earned.

Currently, state workers’ retirement take home pay for unused sick days is capped at $15,000. But some local governments have no limits, causing budget strain.

Full disclosure: I am a public school teacher. And I am against this plan; here’s why:

1) It is a well-established fact that public employees with significant experience or higher education make less in salaries than private sector employees. There is a body of excellent scholarship that shows teachers are relatively underpaid, and that benefits do not make up the gap in compensation. Recent studies have confirmed public workers make less than private workers, and the gap grows greater as the level of education of the employee rises.

More below the fold.

An open letter to New Jersey teachers…

Dear New Jersey Teachers,

No doubt over the next few days you will engage your students in discussions and activities surrounding the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If not for your efforts, the only thing some children today would know about him is that they get a day off for his birthday.

Thank you.

And thank you for everything you do to enrich the lives of your students. You work hard both inside and outside the classroom to bring the world—past, present and future—to your charges. Sometimes you have to move mountains, sometimes you ride waves, sometimes you're doing both simultaneously, but you do it all because it's your passion, your calling. You can't think of anything else you'd rather be doing than teaching 24 wide-eyed first graders about the developmental stages of a butterfly. Or helping one terminally stuck 9th grader slog through algebra (that was me).

And your dedication shows. New Jersey has one of the best public education systems in the country. 

But, as you all know, that is changing. I won't go on about corporate education 'reform' because I'd be preaching to the choir. But if somehow you missed what's been happening in New Jersey education policy over the past two years, I suggest you sit down and read every post ever written by Jersey Jazzman. Then read columnist and author, Chris Hedges, beautifully poignant piece about why the United States is destroying its education system.

Read it. 

Share it.

Protecting the Future of Christ Hospital – for our community

By Michael Yun, President, The Central Avenue SID and Ann Twomey, President, Health Professionals and Allied Employees

For nearly 140 years the residents of Jersey City and surrounding communities have been relying on Christ Hospital and its dedicated staff for safe and effective health care.  Each year, the staff helps deliver more than 1200 babies; cares for over 8000 hospitalized adults and nearly 600 hospitalized children; treats more than 45,000 residents in the Emergency Room; and provides the largest inpatient pediatric service in Hudson County.  

Christ Hospital belongs to the community it protects, and its future should not be decided by a handful of people behind closed doors.  That is why community, civic and religious leaders have teamed up with healthcare providers and elected officials to protect our community hospital and its mission to provide care to all who need it.  

What Christie Said on the Radio Today

Absurd.  Political slush fund.  Prevents innovation.  Currying favor.  Those are some of the words Governor Chris Christie used in conjunction with the teachers’ unions during an interview today on BlogTalkRadio with Ray Pinney.  The New Jersey School Board Association sponsored this conversation.

If you go on the web page, you’ll see a phone number to call in. And a comments section at the bottom of the page.  This would lead one to believe that the conversation would be interactive.  It wasn’t.  Ray got that out of the way the first minute.  No call ins, no questions taken.  The interview would proceed under a strict schedule of topics.  What follows is not a transcript.  These are my notes, taken in real time, and just cleaned up and edited for readability.  The words in quotes are his actual words, to the best of my ability.

Anyone Know How To Get A Rally Started?

“If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.” Sen. Barack Obama – Presidential Campaign Speech in 2007

Those words still resonate in the ears of many American working class families who gave their dollars and their votes to elevate Barack Obama into the office of President of the United States and now many of those same American working class families are asking whatever happened to those comfortable shoes or the candidate who promised to wear them and stand with working class American union members in defense of their rights.

The last two years have seen some of the most egregious and draconian attacks on public unions and middle class families in the last 30 years and President Obama has remained mostly silent and conspicuously detached from all of it.

Union Busting In Hamilton Township (Mercer)

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.politickernj.com/be…

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file… (see page 16)

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index…

http://www.trentonian.com/arti…

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.

Thoughts on the end of Labor Day

As I write this, I am getting ready to trundle my kids off to bed. Labor Day is coming to its close. So I thought I would share my thoughts about this vital holiday.

First, I celebrated Labor Day by sitting in Starbucks, hunched over my laptop, doing work that I will not get paid for, but is necessary for me to complete in order to actually do work I do get paid for. That strikes me as a bit ironic. But then, since organized labor has spent the last twenty-five years of my life ignoring me, I figure the least I can do is return the favor.

I have to say this: I believe that anyone who has a job needs a union. It’s not only a vital right for workers, but it is a necessary check to the unlimited power employers wield in the work market. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell from my life, no union has cared at all about actually DOING…well, anything at all.