NJ Public Workers Pay More than Most Public Workers in Other States Says NJ Spotlight Story
Under 2011 law, employee healthcare contribution are based on ‘ability to pay’ with sliding scale ranging from 3 percent to 35 percent of premium
Three-and-a-half years ago, the state Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission appointed by Gov. Chris Christie would have had an easy time arguing that public employees should pay more toward their healthcare, as Christie has asserted.
At that time, the average state worker was paying just 3.6 percent of health premium costs, and some teachers, police, and local government employees were paying nothing at all, toward some of the most expensive healthcare policies in the country.
Today, however, while the cost of New Jersey public employee health insurance coverage remains the third-highest in the nation, most New Jersey public employees are paying more than the national average for state government workers toward their health insurance costs, an NJ Spotlight analysis shows. (read more)
Unions' Lawsuit Against Christie Administration Moves Forward
The lawsuit filed by public sector unions in New Jersey seeking the state’s full Fiscal Year 2015 contribution into the pension fund will be heard this fall by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson. The hearing is anticipated in November. The unions are seeking the contribution required under Chapter 78, the pension and health benefit law passed in 2011 and signed by Governor Christie. Gov. Christie refused to make the contribution in 2014 and vetoed revenue increases in the state budget passed by the legislature for FY 2015 which would have allowed a full contribution this year.
In Local 1014 Election, Corresponding Secretary Position Goes to Robinson
In a vote of all Local 1014 members on October 28, incumbent Corresponding Secretary Eunice Robinson defeated Sachina Evans 274 to 139. Robinson, a Sr. Juvenile Detention Officer at the Camden County Youth Center has been the union's Corresponding Secretary for over 13 years. Evans works in the Camden City Attorney's Office as a Paralegal Specialist. She serves City Non-supervisory Unit members as a Shop Steward.
Also elected unopposed were:
Karl Walko - President
Leah Hicks - Vice President
Tytanya Ray - Financial Secretary/Treasurer
Valerie Castagna - Recording Secretary
Orlando Munoz - Sgt. at Arms
Dave Ewing - Trustee, City Non-Supervisory Unit
Barbara Bellamy-Johnson, Trustee, City Non-Supervisory Unit
Sue Warner - Trustee, County Large Unit
Marianne McGee - Trustee, County Large Unit
Linda Dilks - Trustee, Library Support Staff Unit
Laura Porter - Trustee, Library Support Staff Unit
Domenic Martino - Trustee, Gloucester Township PW Unit
David Domansky - Trustee, Gloucester Township PW Unit
Joe Belfiore - City Parking Authority Unit
All those elected were to be sworn in at the Local's General Membership Meeting on 10/28.
Governor's Pension Change Won't Work
LOW PAY NOTOK
CWA CRIME SCENE WALK - 6/12/14
Local 1014 representatives participated in CWANJ's "Crime Scene" Walk on June 12. The event dramatized the union's opposition to the Governor's declared intention to withhold the state's contribution to the pension fund required by the 2011 law he signed.
CWA STANDS UP FOR PENSIONS
CWANJ Press Release - For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
CWA TAKING CHRISTIE TO COURT FOR BREAKING LAW & FAILING TO MAKE PROMISED PENSION PAYMENTS
(TRENTON, NJ) – Following yesterday’s incredulous announcement by Governor Chris Christie’s that he is refusing to make promised pension payments, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) is taking Governor Christie to court. CWA’s legal action will require Christie to pay into the pension system, as the very law he signed intended.
“Governor Christie is not only breaking his word, but he’s also breaking the law in failing to make these pension payments,” said Hetty Rosenstein, CWA NJ State Director, “Put aside how Christie’s actions are immoral. If the pension payments are not made, the plan will go bankrupt. Retirees and active workers will spend their retirement in poverty through no fault of their own. For these reasons, and more, we are taking the governor to court. And we will be mobilizing our members and allies in protest of Christie’s outrageous, illegal actions.”
The law is clear. And this latest Christie scheme is a direct contravention of the legislation he signed and that he said was going to save the pension.
Governor Christie’s decision to reduce the $1.6 billion payment to the pension systems due this fiscal year by almost $900 million, along with his stated intention to reduce the payment due next year by over $1.5 billion is a blatant violation of the State’s statutory obligation to make its annual required contributions to the pension systems as determined by the systems’ actuaries. The annual required contribution includes payments for the unfunded accrued liability that is the result of decades of underfunding the pension systems. Christie refers to this underfunding as the “sins of the past.” But the law requires that the State finally make up for these “sins” - because hundreds of thousands of retirees and current employees are entitled to the modest pensions they earned through decades of dedicated public service. These are pensions that they contributed to throughout their employment. And it is rightfully owed to them.
The pension statutes expressly empower any member of the pension system or a board of trustees to file a complaint with the Superior Court’s Law Division to enforce the contractual right to a securely funded pension system. The statute also compels the State to make its annual required contribution, as determined by the pension systems’ actuaries.
As such, CWA has directed its lawyers to begin preparing a complaint to file in court to require Governor Christie to pay into the pension systems the annual required contribution that the Legislature appropriated in the fiscal year 2014 Appropriations Act.
Raz Baraka's Victory in Newark Could Revitalize NJ Progressives
.....So says The Nation magazine in a May 13 article: "If Bill de Blasio needs a partner in rebuilding America’s urban core, he can now look west, just across the Hudson River, to Newark, where Ras Baraka was elected mayor yesterday. Baraka’s election means a lot to progressives, organized labor, teachers and others in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city—and it is a significant defeat for Governor Chris Christie and his allies in the Democratic party, including former Newark Mayor Corey Booker and the Democratic party bosses George Norcross and Joe DiVincenzo. It might also represent a key tipping point for the next New Jersey race for governor, which—if Christie resigns in the scandal that is plaguing him or, alternately, if and when he resigns to run for president—could happen as early as 2015." (Full story)
County Library Support Staff Unit Approves Contract in Sixth Year of Negotiations
After years of negotiations, the Local 1014 County Library Support Staff Unit reached an agreement with management on a contract covering 2009 – 2015. A tentative agreement was ratified by union members on May 9. The agreement includes an immediate 8% increase in salary. The Unit includes approximately 115 employees, mostly part-time workers, providing direct patron services and administrative support.
Pine Hill Unit Approves 2013-2016 Agreement
Local 1014's Pine Hill bargaining unit ratified a new contract on April 7 for 2013-2016. The agreement included increases in each year of the contract.
Local 1014 Shop Steward Woody Cuffee Tells CWA Town Hall Conference Call About the Council #10 Affiliation
Winslow Township Unit Shop Steward spoke to CWA members across the nation on March 20 about the 1,500 members of Council #10 becoming CWA members. Woody told listeners why the independent Council #10 needed to become part of a national union and what public employees in New Jersey are currently facing. This is the second time Woody has been a CWA member. While an employee of Verizon, Woody was in Local 1300. (Listen to Woody - Click on Arrow at Top of Page)
CWA Local 1014 Awards $11,500 in Scholarships
At its March 25, 2014 General Membership Meeting, Local 1014 awarded $11,500 in scholarships--$500 to each of 23 students. The recipients are the sons and daughters of Local 1014 members in their senior year of high school. Since 1997, the union has awarded $178,800 in scholarships.
Congratulations to the recipients. Thanks to the Scholarship and Golf Tournament Committees, the Local 1014 office staff and all those that participated in the fundraising by either soliciting contributions or contributing themselves.
Council #10 Members Approve Affiliation with CWA 573-118
In the February 18 and 19 voting on the affiliation of Council #10 with the Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO, 573 members voted in favor of the affiliation and 118 members voted against affiliation.
Council #10 is now affiliated with the CWA.
Thank you to all who participated in the vote!
(At left, Council #10 President Walko and CWA Director Rosenstein seal the affiiation with a handshake)
Council #10 Prosecutor's Office Unit Ratifies Six-Year Bargaining Agreement
The Camden County Prosecutor's Clerical and Admnistrative Unit has reached a contract agreement(2011-2016) with management . The agreement includes one year without an increase but 2% wage increases in each of the other five years. The agreement was signed by the parties on January 14.
The "Boss" on the Governor and the GWB Scandal
Inequality is Real, Let's Fix It!
County Negotiations Committee Issues Report on Initial Proposals by Union and Management
The Camden County Multi-Unit (Large, Blue Collar, Crafts, Mosquito and Supervisory Units) Negotiations Committee authorized the release of a report outlining the initial proposals by both Camden County and Council #10 in the ongoing negotiations for successor contracts. The current collective agreements expired on December 31.
After agreeing to sign an agreement in the last negotiations which offered significant concessions to management, Council #10 has once again received a proposal in which Camden County is extremely aggressive in seeking additional concessions. All the same, Council #10 and your negotiations team remain focused on reaching a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement regardless of the County’s proposal.
Unit members can anticipate progress reports throughout the negotiations. (1/5/13)
Council #10 President Walko Addresses County Freeholders on Layoffs, Cutbacks in Benefits and Upcoming Negotiations -
Council #10 President Karl Walko addressed the Board of Freeholders at their July 2012 meeting in Collingswood. The full text of the address is as follows:
Council #10 does not expect the County to hire employees just to improve the economy but we want to point out what has happened in this recession and how it is so different than the past.
During past recessions, local and state government increased employment; however, during this recession, the public sector nationwide shrunk by 706,000 jobs. Government job losses are now the single biggest drag on the economy. Undoubtedly, it has had an impact on Camden County’s economy.
Beyond the numbers, it is important that the Board keep in mind how government differs from the private sector.
In the private sector, businesses start, grow, shrink and go out of business. Others come in their place. Businesses gain and lose customers. While constant comparisons are made, government is different. The service provided by public workers is critical to the community and for obvious reasons there are normally no alternatives for customers. As a result, stability in services is much more important in the public sector. And in order to provide the stability in services, stability in the work force is critical.
Over the past few years, Camden County has lost a vast number of employees—many of those employees had substantial organizational knowledge. Now, at some work sites, it’s like they are starting over from scratch. Services are suffering and will suffer more with further losses. When the current Council #10 contracts end at the end of this year, many additional long-term employees will be leaving. This only adds to the problem.
Council #10 saw cutbacks coming. We believed the County should invest in its employees so that fewer employees could maintain or even increase services. We believed that through training, technology and better equipment, this could be done. And through attrition, the overall number of jobs could be reduced. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Nevertheless, we are still prepared to be partners in improving the productivity of employees and improving services from their current level.
While not much can be done to retain retiring employees, Camden County needs to consider its remaining employees and the services they provide. With a smaller workforce, it becomes even more important that the County hires and retains fully qualified employees.
Council #10 members in trouble have often been described to me as “your problem member”. Just as often, I responded that if Council #10 did the hiring, a lot of problem employees would never have been hired. We ask that you focus on hiring reliable employees.
But more important, we ask that you focus on what you offer qualified employees. The advantages of public employment have continually shrunk over the past years and especially in the past few years.
Now and over the next few years:
Employees will be contributing a much larger portion of the cost of their health insurance coverage. Some will lose over $5,000 per year in pay. Now there will be little advantage over private sector jobs especially with the coming implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act.
Pensions are currently reduced, and for new employees, greatly reduced. In fact, it’s not clear what will happen with the entire pension system. A government pension no longer has its previous attraction.
Salaries in more skilled positions lag behind the private sector.
Most importantly, public workers are being demonized in the media by irresponsible officials. Existing workers are demoralized by the attacks. Many are retiring, counting the days until they can retire or are regretting the day they took a government job. Candidates for employment will think twice about taking a position so subject to abuse.
We have negotiations coming up this fall. We believe it is in the interest of everyone to reach a FAIR agreement as quickly as possible. But we believe in collective bargaining and the importance of the collective agreement to County employees. The current agreement was negotiated over the past forty plus years. While we recognize that negotiations mean changes in the contract, it doesn’t mean that what the County now wants it should have. We expect the Board to have respect for the process. We believe that issuing proposals through the media in advance of negotiations was extremely destructive. We believe addressing employees directly and not through their elected bargaining unit representatives was extremely destructive. We believe that making proposals for the sake of public posturing is extremely destructive.
Current workers are generally confused about what to expect in the future, beaten down by attacks through the media and discouraged by the reductions in their pay and benefits. If they ever looked at the Board as a good employer, they no longer have that view.
Council #10 believes that resolution of successor collective agreements without unnecessary conflict is essential for the future in order for Camden County to attract and retain qualified employees as well as for improving the productivity of the current workforce.
We ask that you consider all of this in preparing for the upcoming negotiations.
This About Sums It Up
From the Star-Ledger
by Karl R. Walko
Our New Affiliation
Dear Union Brothers and Sisters:
It has been two months since Camden County Council #10 became CWA Local 1014. It has been an exciting time. The affiliation has required changes for Local 1014 in almost every area—from the front door of our office to the way we answer the phone to our home page on the internet. Letterhead, accounts, email addresses, etc. are all being changed. We suspect the change will not be fully completed for months but we have made significant progress already and will continue to move as quickly as we can while continuing service to members with as little impact as possible.
Local 1014 is being integrated into the Communications Workers of America world. In March, we brought all Local 1014 representatives (officers, trustees and stewards) together with the representatives of the other CWA locals in Camden County for a day of training, coalition building and political activity. CWANJ organized the event and NJ Area Director Hetty Rosenstein led the training. Attending were representatives from Local 1038 (state and private sector workers), Local 1079 (Camden Board of Education workers) and Local 1084 (Camden County Board of Social Services workers) in addition to your local’s representatives.
The day’s activities made our common issues and common goals obvious to everyone. A coalition building process was initiated and further meetings and discussions are planned. The coalition is not limited to CWA locals. Speakers included CWA partners Analilia Mejia, Executive Director Working Families Alliance, Adam Gordan, Counsel, Fair Share Housing and Maura Collinsgru, New Jersey Citizen Action. This expansion of the labor coalition to a coalition of progressive groups all working for each other’s goals is a major focus of the CWA National Union.
The training received by representatives should have an immediate impact on work site services while the political discussion and coalition building promise to propel us forward toward our long-term goals.
Local elected officials were invited to a meet and greet with union representatives at the end of the day. Officials attending included Assemblymen Greenwald and Fuentes, Assemblywomen Lampitt and Mosquera, Freeholders McDonnell, Nash, and Leonard, Mayors Redd of Camden and Mayer of Gloucester Township and Camden City Council President Moran.
We have a ways to go before we maximize the impact of our new affiliation but we can already see a difference. I hope members have some sense of the change we are going through and the opportunities the affiliation presents us.
Karl R. Walko
CWA Local 1014 President
ongoing for the Camden County Large, Blue Collar, Crafts and Supervisory Units, the Camden County Mosquito Commission Unit, the County Library Supervisory Unit, the City of Camden Crossing Guard Unit and the Gloucester Township Administrative Staff, Public Works and Supervisory Units.
Henry J. Dunn, III Scholarship Golf Tournament--September 18, 2014
The annual Henry J. Dunn, III Scholarship Golf Tournament is scheduled this year for Thursday, September 18 at the Valleybrook Golf Club in Blackwood. Additional information on the tournament is available through the Local 1014 office.
Need Documents Notarized?
A Notary Public is available in the Local 1014 Office. Local 1014 members needing documents notarized may come to the office to use this service free of charge (some limitations apply). If you have any questions, please contact Caroline Taylor at (856) 541-4191 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Local 1014 Partners with HCAMS
All Local 1014 members have access to HCAMS (Health Assistance with Membership Support), an employee assistance provider, assisting employees with stress-related conditions; behavioral health issues and drug and alcohol dependencies at no cost. Union representatives will offer the assistance to members before or at the early stages of discipline in order to head off more significant problems.
HCAMS has provided assistance to public employees in New Jersey for over 20 years as a Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP). The currently partner with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and a number of CWA New Jersey locals.
Members can contact HCAMS directly at 1-888-828-7826.
NJ Division of Pensions & Benefits Provides Calculator for Determining Required Health Benefit Contribution for Those Covered by the State Health Benefit Plan
The New Jersey Division of Pensions & Benefits provides an on-line calculator for employees wishing to determine the health benefit contribution they are required to pay as a result of the pension and benefit law passed in June 2011 (P.L. 2011, c.78). Employees will need to know the plan they elected and their year of phase in (1, 2, 3 or 4) in order to use the chart.
Member Activities Updates
Council #10 Sponsors Kinky Boots Show Trip
Sixty-six A busload of Council #10 members saw the Tony award winning show, Kinky Boots at the Al Hirschfeld Theater on 45th St. in New York on Sunday, November 10, 2013. The show was a big hit to all that attended. (12/1/13)
Local 1014 Night at the Phillies 2014
On a perfect night for baseball, Local 1014 members attending the May 30, Friday night game got their money’s worth and more. Five hours, 23 minutes after the start of the game, Phillies 3rd baseman Reid Brignac ended the marathon by ripping an 0-1 pitch to left field to score the winning run in the 14th inning in a 6-5 victory over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.