As reported by nj.com, Governor Chris Christie panned an alternative proposal by the State’s largest public employee union to overhaul health care benefits. “Their offer stinks,” Christie said at a press conference in Trenton. “It doesn’t save any money.”
Christie wants all state employees to pay for 30 percent of the cost of health insurance plans, an increase from the current structure that has state employees pay 1.5 percent of their salary.
The Communications Workers of America, which represents about 35,000 full-time state employees, made a counter proposal that would determine what workers pay based both on their salary and the cost of the insurance plan. The CWA estimates the average worker would pay about 14 percent of the insurance plan cost and would save taxpayers about $200 million by 2013.
The CWA publically released their counter proposal, which has received the backing of other public employee unions, after union officials say they were told Christie’s administration would not include health care benefits in collective bargaining. Christie has repeatedly said he will seek his change to health benefits through legislation. The unions have pushed for the changes to be part of this year’s collective bargaining over contracts that expire on June 30.
At the press conference, Christie said he is not unwilling to talk about health benefits with the unions at some point down the road, but that he still intends to obtain changes through legislation.
Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the CWA, contended their proposal would save the state millions of dollars. “It’s time for “Governor I Love Collective Bargaining” to quit posturing and start getting serious,” Rosenstein said. “CWA has put forward a comprehensive health care reform proposal that will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and if the governor and his bargaining team would sit down with us and negotiate, we could move forward to constructive solutions. It’s long past time for epithets and name-calling, and time to treat the collective bargaining process with the seriousness it deserves.”