Employees in New Jersey’s largest state-worker union overwhelmingly ratified a revised contract agreement on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 that defers a raise and trades furloughs this year for future vacation days. With a little over 13,000 votes cast online or by phone by the deadline, the margin was 69 percent to 31 percent according to the Communication Workers of America. All four bargaining units, those represented clerical workers, professionals and two tiers of supervisors, voted for the revised deal, which bars layoffs until 2011. 

Workers in the CWA, which covers about half the state’s workforce, agreed to defer a 3.5 percent raise that was due July 1, 2009 by 18 months; they will get two 3.5 percent raises in fiscal 2011. Workers also agreed to nine furlough days over the coming year, on top of one taken in May. In exchange, they receive seven days off from work they can take starting in July 2010 or cash out when they leave state employment, at their pay rate at that time. 

The State agreed not to layoff any workers until January 2011 or add more unpaid furloughs before July 2011. If the State lays off any worker before January 2011, not counting any fired for disciplinary reasons or for cause, all state workers immediately get the deferred 3.5 percent raise and no further furloughs are required.

Workers due to receive increment raised in fiscal 2010 based on their years of service will get those increases. The nine unpaid furlough days include the day after Thanksgiving this year and Lincoln’s Birthday in 2010. The other seven dates will be worked out by workers and their supervisors and must be taken by the end of June 2010.

Republicans, who are hopeful that Governor Corzine will be replaced in this fall’s election, said the agreement ties the hands of the next governor to deal with next year’s multi-billion dollar deficit. “The governor did not need to negotiate these costly, election-year concessions. The courts had upheld his right to furlough workers as he originally proposed. The governor traded a plan that would have saved money during a recession for one that may very well slow the state’s recovery,” said Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr., R-Union.