New Jersey Governor Christie with the help of some Democrats is ready to approve several changes in state worker benefits and pensions to help close a growing funding gap of tens of billions of dollars. Needless to say the unions are not pleased, but I think the following quote reported by Bloomberg.com is most telling, accurate and an excellent point for why collective bargaining is not appropriate in the public sector.
Union members hissed and booed as Sweeney, who is sponsoring the measure in the Senate, testified. “You’re not my brother,” one person yelled, a reference to his union position. The hearing was later delayed after state police led out two dozen union members who chanted “union rights are human rights” and “kill this bill” as Bob Master, political director for the Communications Workers of America, spoke against the measure.
“Real Democrats would have killed this bill,” Master said. His union represents about 40,000 state workers and is the largest union for New Jersey government employees. The organization has been pushing for any changes in its members’ health-care contributions to be done through collective bargaining, not legislation.
Call me cynical but in this case “real Democrats” and collective bargaining with the folks who financed their campaigns is what got NJ into this mess in the first place. Now key Democrats are doing the right thing fixing the mess. It’s about time the citizens of NJ and other states in a similar mess support the politicians trying to fix years of deals with the unions, underfunding of promises and overly generous benefits that are not affordable by the citizens who are footing the bill.
State workers deserve a fair and competitive total compensation package consistent with that of their fellow citizens, recognizing the jobs they do, the hours they work and the relative security of their positions, no more, no less.