As reported by nj.com, state workers have begun wearing red arm bands to voice their opposition to proposals that would slash their health benefits. The arm bands are being distributed by the Communications Workers of America, the largest public employee union in New Jersey that represents most of the state’s professional rank and file staff.
The signs read, “CWA Local 1033 Workers, Fighting for Health Care Plus Retirement $ecurity.” The bands are attached with an elastic strip and were spotted on workers in Trenton dressed in business attire.
Hetty Rosenstein, CWA state director, said the arm bands are intended to raise awareness about the proposals. “The armbands are a powerful reminder of what this fight is really about: basic rights for the hardworking men and women who serve New Jersey,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “Governor Christie is trying to take away what every working person deserves—health care they can afford and the ability to retire after a lifetime of work.”
Christie has proposed making state employees pay 30 percent of the cost of health care premiums, a change that would be achieved through legislation. Currently, state workers pay 1.5 percent of their salary toward health benefits.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said the arm bands demonstrate a “disconnect.” “What’s bemusing is that their arm bands say they are fighting for retirement security and lifetime health care benefits,” Drewniak said in a statement. “So are we, because if serious reforms are not instituted, there will be no pension system and dwindling health benefits at best. The CWA’s disconnect and denial with these mathematical certainties is always puzzling.”