Collective Bargaining Debate Hits New Jersey

Monday, June 20, 2011

Workers with their pension papers (Bill Bamberger)

When Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker threatened the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s public sector employees earlier this year, large scale protests assembled almost overnight as the eyes of the world descended on the Badger State. It was déjà vu in the Garden State last week, when the New Jersey State Senate approved a bill which would radically change the health care, pensions and bargaining rights of over 500,000 public sector employees. Just a decade ago, a move against pensions would be political suicide. So why are voters and lawmakers changing their state budget tactics now?

For the answer we speak with  Bob Hennelly, senior political reporter for WNYC, and Roger Lowenstein, contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and author of “The End of Wall Street.”


Bob Hennelly and Roger Lowenstein

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [6]

owkrender from USA

The plaintiffs in the Florida lawsuit have it right. Raising the employees' contribution toward retirement--negotiated in lieu of wages--or lowering retirement benefits without collective bargaining is no more that a tax on public employees. This from politicians who are phobic on the subject of taxes when they are applied to anyone but their political enemies.

Jun. 21 2011 11:31 AM

This is for K1MJS....I dont think that you get it. Follow the logic....The Unions give money to democrats so they can get elected...the elected democrats then give the money back to the unions/employees of the unions as a "payment" for their support. That my friend is a joke...The Dems have always spent without regard to fiscal constraint and it is going to haunt them. I did not hear you say anything about the retirement? At what age can public sector employees retire with full benefits? The problem is that public workers get payed by taxpayers and unions/dems have schemed to be poor stewards of our taxpayer dollars and allowed union formation within the government workforce which in and of itself is a semi monopoly. It should be against the law. Plus, the employees of the unions can get tenure and not NOT accountable for their work.
Private sector employees can be fired, demoted, not given raises and have to work until retirement age of 62 to be elligible for full retirement benefits....why not the public unions??? I have news for are going to spend more on your benefits like the rest of us and its been a long time coming. could save a ton of money if you disband your union!

Jun. 20 2011 06:06 PM
K1MJS from Miami, FL

It is very annoying to hear incomplete discussions about public employee compensation. State and local employees have lower total • compensation than their private sector counterparts. On average, total compensation is 6.8 percent lower for state employees and 7.4 percent lower for local workers, compared with comparable private sector employees ( It is always annoying that public sector employees are now being penalized for decisions that political leaders and voters made over the past several decades. Public employees, in unions or not, bargained in good faith for compensation packages. They did not do anything underhanded or evil. The voters voted for the politicians who approved these compensation packeges. The voters apparently did not do their homework and elected political leaders who signed these contracts with public employees. It should be the voters and the political leaders who should be paying for any poor judgement in the past. Rather, the voters and political leaders are getting away 'scott free' while the public employees are made to carry the burden and are made to look like they are thieves. What a travesty!

Jun. 20 2011 10:59 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ Michael from Brooklyn -

You think that teachers ONLY work 5 hours a day 180 per year? Clearly you don't know a teacher. You're incorrect considering the many work days without students they have, [entirely] outside classroom curriculum development, not to mention tutorials and many other contracted duties and obligations they must meet. In a word, you are: wrong.

Secondly provide data/studies to support your radical statement that "[c]ivil servants are notoriously identified as the least productive and most lazy workers compared to those who work for private profit incented companies."

Let's see, you don't have anything to support you're claim because it's incorrect and doesn't exist.

Finally, have you every heard of the concepts of "legally binding contracts" or "negotiation"? Guess not.

Jun. 20 2011 09:44 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

Teachers in NYC work 5 hours a day, 180 days a year. Civil servants are notoriously identified as the least productive and most lazy workers compared to those who work for private profit incented companies.
We can observe this every day when seeing how DOT, Police and Transit workers perform their duties.
Civil Servant pensions are bleeding us to death.

Jun. 20 2011 09:35 AM
Jill from Bergen County, NJ

My husband is a NJ firefighter. Most people don't know that NJ Fire and Police do NOT receive social security benefits. Teachers do. You would be mortified if you heard your employer had not paid the federal government their portion of social security. This is exactly what happened in NJ. My husband has continually been having 8.5% removed from his salary and the town he works for has not paid in a dime into the retirement system. I have no idea why this tidbit has not been publicized.

Jun. 20 2011 07:28 AM

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