Tag Archive: collective bargaining

Labor Day. Every Day.

There are many, many issues that affect working families and individuals were addressed, but on Labor Day, let’s talk about labor, collective bargaining and the right to organize. An organized workforce and the ability to engage in collective bargaining and…
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A misleading headline

promoted by Rosi

Full disclosure I’m a proud member of AFT Local #2375

This past week the Courier News posted a sItory about our ongoing contract negotiations at Raritan Valley Community College titled RVCC professors won’t give up annual salary raise.  The article goes on at length to highlight the salaries of our more tenured professors – people who help make RVCC a top community college institution in New Jersey – but fails to mention the spike in administrative salaries over the past ten years.  Moreover, there is no mention of our more junior members making significantly less than their counterparts across New Jersey.  

Our position has remained consistent throughout negotiations: offering our members a 0% raise is a non-starter.  With the new pension and benefit reforms, 0% is essentially a pay reduction.  Our members don’t deserve a reduction in wages.  All we are asking for are good faith negotiations to reach a fair consensus. We understand that these are tough economic times.  But based upon the salaries received by members in the administration – including the RVCC President, who is making over $245,000 in total compensation – we think there is room for negotiation.  

We remain committed to a fair contract for our members and hope the administration comes to the bargaining table to reach a fair compromise.  Until then, we will continue to give our side of the story.  Before the last negotiation session members of AFT, students, and alumni came together to voice our displeasure with the state of negotiations.  Watch a video of the rally below and please join us on November 29th at 5:00 PM as we stage another demonstration prior to a negotiation session.  

Watch the video here.

In solidarity.  

Open Letter to OWS

Lets just get this out there First: I am a privileged Baby boomer. College was relatively cheap. I missed Vietnam. I got a State job that is fulfilling.  A pension.  Expensive, but still good healthcare.  And I even get collective bargaining when its convenient for the politicians.  Despite that,  I AM grateful.  And honestly, I feel guilty.

   Why?  Because I know that the generation out in the street right now don’t have it as good as I did AND they are doing way more to effect change than I ever did at any Anti-nuke rally in the 80s.  

   I feel guilty because I had an easy job market in the mid 80s.  They face “the new normal” – which might be 7-8% unemployment whenever we get back down to that level (and yes, Higher for minorities).  To them, my defined benefit pension is like the phone land lines I own … a dinosaur.  In short, these young people face an economic disaster that only avoids revolution because of our tattered remnant of a social safety net.  They dont deserve this and I feel guilty that I have done nothing to help them.

    So yes, with my guilt in tow, I accompanied my Gen X friend today to deliver the soup he made to the Trenton Occupy.  Not much of a help, but a start.  I spoke to a 20 something there who said our government is irrelevant. He said the only worthwhile effort is to continue the protest and hope for change outside of government.

      Is he right? After all, did government cause Bank of America to retract its new $5 transaction fee? The most arrogant, aggressive bank of all, BOA, backed down. Holy shit. Did Obama finally wake up and bring such change? The audacity of Hope? Nope.   In the face of a OWS movement to move our bank accounts to smaller banks, BOA backed down.  

    But, I still doubt that OWS on its own will bring on the big reforms outside of the machinery of the existing political system. Yes that system is corrupted by money. Yes it works in the interests of its corporate masters. But the fact of the matter is… it collects the taxes and controls billions in resources. Its has an army, a police force, a court system and a bureaucracy that still can (if allowed to) enforce laws for the greater good.

     In short, if government suddenly dissolved leaving OWS in its place… OWS would quickly have to rebuild something like what already exists to stave off a collapse of society. Yes they would build it with representatives who actually represent the people. And, OWS already has a government… its called the General Assembly.

    So OWS is going to have to face it. Government isnt irrelevant.  Their disgust with the corrupted system is right, but their conclusion that the system is useless is wrong.   Its the people running the system that are the problem.

   What I am suggesting is that OWS needs to contemplate a new phase. An occupation of the electoral system.  Occupy the Voting Booth. Occupy the Parties.  Take the apparatus of Government back for the people.  Start with the party Committees, the local government, the school boards, the planning boards.  Occupy THAT.  they wont know what hit them.  

She Sold Her Soul to the Devil

Sheila Oliver is worse than we thought. She did it ALL in order to maintain her position.

This is the treachery and treason that has become the NJ Democratic Leadership.

A vote for these lying, treasonous turncoats is a vote for Christie and the death of New Jersey’s middle class.

The article says it all. the Audio says it better!

Read the NJ.com Article here:

Christie agreed to help Oliver remain in power for her help passing public employee benefits overhaul, leaked audio reveals.

New Jersey Betrayal

Once upon a time in the State of New Jersey, we had a situation where the public workers (of the state) such as teachers, nurses, police, and others were blatantly violating the laws of NJ by not  contributing into their pension funds. In fact for 11 of the last 15 years, these irresponsible people paid ZERO DOLLARS into the funds. During this time the State of New Jersey has been paying its full share amount into each pension fund all along. Now the pension system is severely underfunded and it is time for those who have not been paying into the system to pay up. Why should the State/taxpayers have to make up the difference when these people were so irresponsible? Those who have been paying their fair share should not be made to bear the burden for the irresponsibility of those who did not.

In an admirable bipartisan spirit, Governor Chris Christie (Republican) has worked closely with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (Democrat) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (Democrat) to forge a Pension-Benefits Reduction Bill that will restore solvency to the pension system. This bill will hold those who have not paid their fair share responsible for restoring solvency to the system through additional deductions, reduced health care benefits, no cost of living increases for pensioners, the establishment of a board that would offer plans with fewer benefits as well as increased co-pays and prescriptions and most importantly the stripping of the unions’ right to negotiate their health-care insurance coverage and contribution levels.


So again, why should those who have been paying their fair share be made to bear the burden of the irresponsibility of those who did not?  The pensioners will no longer receive cost-of-living increases until the system is “determined to be solvent”.  These are people who paid faithfully into the system their entire professional lives. While this might sound like a reasonable concession on the surface, if you look deeper, it will devastate this group.  According to a well respected data site, shadowstats.org, the current annual inflation rate is 12% and is climbing. This means that pensioners will lose half their buying power in 4 years. In 8 to 12 years they will be living in poverty!

During the courtship of Governor Christie, Senator Sweeney and Sheila Oliver failed to strong arm their Democratic Caucuses to support the bill and were not successful at getting a majority to do so. However, in North Jersey (Essex area) and in Southern New Jersey, the very powerful party bosses were able to order enough Democrats to betray their principles, so that when combined with the Republican minority in both houses, the Pension-Benefits Reduction Bill was able to pass.

In a cynical move, to protect themselves from the inevitable backlash for their betrayal, the vote on this Pension-Benefits Reduction Bill was purposely withheld until after the primary elections had been completed and the deadline had passed for adding names to the coming election ballot.

This betrayal of organized labor by the South Jersey Democrats has ignited a firestorm among this core constituent group as well as others who recognize the injustice of making some pay for the irresponsibility of others. Meetings were called and the NJ Progressive Democrats of America (no affiliation to the Democratic Party) charted a strategy.  During these meetings the Democratic legislators who betrayed their constituents were renamed “Christiecrats”.

These Christiecrats claim that they are looking to make the fund solvent, but where were they during all the years the Democrats controlled the Senate and Assembly and the state was not making its contributions into the fund? Their silence was deafening.

On Monday, August 8, at the War Memorial in Trenton, the NJ Progressive Democrats of America will be starting a petition drive for the removal of Stephen Sweeney from the Senate Presidency and Sheila Oliver from the Assembly Speakership.  The petition will be presented to NJ State Democratic Committee chair John Wisniewski.

In these times when public workers are under increasing attack by the corporate controlled media, it is important to remember that:

1. it was not the public workers who instigated multi $trillion bond fraud on Wall Street

2. it was not the public workers who lobbied for financial deregulation

3. it was not the public workers who gambled in derivatives with other peoples’ money

4. it was not the public workers who accepted $billions in bailouts

5. it was not the public workers who paid themselves huge bonuses

6. it was not the public workers who brought the economy to its knees

Remember, the media will try to redirect your anger away from the Wall Street aristocracy. In a classic case of divide and conquer they will try to turn you against other middle class workers, and then place the question in your mind, “why does the bus mechanic who works for the state have full benefits?” WRONG QUESTION! You should be asking why you do not have them.



Thoughts on Two Assembly Marathons

What a difference a few days make. I covered two New Jersey State Assembly sessions, live tweeting from each for Blue Jersey from the back of the chamber.

The first, last Thursday, was the session where several Democrats Christiecrats joined the Republican voting bloc to strip state workers of collective bargaining rights and increase their health premiums. That session was punctuated by noisy crowds outside the State House, and the gallery was filled with well-behaved union supporters. By contrast, today’s session, where the members voted on the Democratic budget and the millionaires’ tax, played to a nearly empty gallery with voting along party lines. Sadly today’s session also took place in the absence of NJN television crews.

After sitting behind the GOP assemblymen (and yes, most of them are white men), zealously protecting my claim to an electrical outlet for my laptop, for twelve hours on Thursday and eight hours tonight, I got a feel for how this body works, or at least presents itself to the public.

Better Know a Betrayer!

Public workers, meet your betrayers. Here, for your future reference, are the names of the Democratic legislators who sold you, the middle class public workers of NJ, out in the name of phony “reform.”

Over the next few weeks, Blue Jersey will be taking a long, hard look at the careers of these folks – stay tuned.


John Burzichelli (District 3, Paulsboro – Deputy Speaker)

Herb Conaway Jr. (District 7, Delanco)

Jack Conners (District 7, Pennsauken – Deputy Speaker)

Albert Coutinho (District 29, Newark)

Angel Fuentes (District 5, Camden)

Louis Greenwald (District 6, Voorhees – Budget Chair)

Pamela R. Lampitt (District 6, Voorhees)

Matthew Milam (District 1, Vineland)

Paul D. Moriarty (District 4, Washington Twp.)

Sheila Y. Oliver (District 34, East Orange – Assembly Speaker)

Celeste Riley (District 3, Bridgeton – a teacher!)

Kevin J. Ryan (District 36, Nutley)

L. Grace Spencer (District 29, Newark – Deputy Speaker)

Gilbert L. “Whip” Wilson (District 5 – Camden)


Jim Beach – (District 6, Voorhees)

Fred Madden – (District 4, Washington Township – a cop!)

Donald Norcross – (District 5, Camden)

Teresa Ruiz – (District 29, Newark)

Brian Stack – (District 33, Union City)

Steve Sweeney – (District 3, West Deptford, Senate President)

Jeff Van Drew – (District 1, Dennis Township)

Jim Whelan – (District 2, Atlantic City)

Anti-Labor on NBC, Labor on MSNBC

Yesterday, somebody asked me if they should go off somewhere and do something else, or stay glued to the Assembly vote, which was in a dramatic holding pattern for five-and-a-half hours. Stay with the Assembly, I said. It will be national news. And it is. The Assembly vote, and Senate vote before it, are not a victory for New Jersey because too many of our neighbors, fathers, and co-workers are getting screwed. It’s certainly not a victory for the Democratic Party, which now faces an enthusiasm gap and loss of reliable union ground troops, with a huge election looming. No, it was a victory for Christopher James Christie, delivered perhaps at their own cost, by a new class of Christie enablers with nominal “D’s” on their backs. Watch Christie step out front now, before other one-term GOP governors getting ahead on the backs of their state’s working people. Comer. Hotshot. Buzzmaster. And it was only a matter of hours before Gov. Christie was on TV letting Matt Lauer talk about his 2012 presidential sizzle, feeding into that by wasting no time going after President Obama. And thanking the Democratic leadership that put him in the Today Show’s exclusive interview chair, thanking his enablers inside 10 seconds after he opened his mouth.

So, in case you missed it, is Chris Christie on the morning after. Right below it, for counter-point, is CWA President Hetty Rosenstein on MSNBC’s boutique, and NJ-savvy The Ed Show (MSNBC):

Sorry, I couldn’t scrub the ads. Deal with it.

Christie on The Today Show 6/24/11Rosenstein on The Ed Show 6/23/11