As reported by nj.com, public workers would pay more for their pension and health benefits under a deal struck between Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Under the deal, most public workers would immediately pay an additional 1 percent of their salaries for their pensions, while police and firefighters would pay an additional 1.5 percent. The State would pledge to increase its pension contributions to legally required levels.
Workers would pay up to 30 percent of their health care premiums after a four-year period. But, unlike Governor Christie’s original proposal, the payments would be tiered based on income, so employees with lower salaries pay less.
CWA New Jersey Director Hetty Rosenstein declined to discuss the specifics of the proposal, but said she’s opposed to legislation that “undermines collective bargaining.” “This proposal attacks collective bargaining. It’s absolutely unaffordable. And it does not one thing-there’s no indication that it does anything to address the high cost of health care,” she said.
Public unions want health benefits to be decided through collective bargaining, not legislation. “We feel there is an avenue in the Assembly where we can protect our collective bargaining rights,” said Dominick Marino, president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
Assemblywoman Joan Quigley said there is vocal opposition to health benefits legislation inside her caucus. “The Assembly is really just learning for the first time of the deal. There are millions of questions, and right now I don’t think there’s a consensus either way,” she said.