As reported in NJ.Com, the New Jersey League of Municipalities stopped short of taking an official position on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed pension reforms but stated the proposed changes could disenfranchise workers and trigger a mass exodus of local workers.  Executive Director Bill Dressel shared the league’s concerns in a letter to the governor late last week, saying it had concerns about some of the recommendations and wants a seat at the table.

“There are questions being raised by municipal officials both in a capacity as an employer, because we’re the ones responsible for paying the bills, and from the workforce perspective,” Dressel said today.

A special commission appointed by Christie released a long-awaited report last week recommending drastic changes to the state’s pension and heath plans, including freezing the existing pension system and moving active employees into a hybrid of a traditional defined-benefit pension plan and a 401(k)-like defined-contribution plan.

Dressel said his group has not taken a formal position on the proposal and stated that changes are necessary.  However Dressel also stated that “these are major white knuckle issues that have got to be discussed.”  and “The proposal to freeze existing pensions, without qualification, could inspire the mass exodus of key local administrators and professionals, giving them no time to train and mentor their successors,.”  “This loss of experience and expertise would have a deleterious impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of local programs and services.”

In accordance with Christie’s proposed plan Employees’ health care coverage would also be reduced and they would have to pay more out of pocket toward their health care coverage. In exchange, the state would constitutionally protect pension payments after decades of shortchanging them.  How interesting–another proposed promise to fund the pension system from Governor Christie.

Christie’s commission noted in its report that aspects of the plan would likely be unpopular, but that its members “believe in time they will be viewed as the best way to move forward.”  The commission stressed that with $83 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, $53 billion in unfunded health care liabilities and soaring annual pension payments, New Jersey can little afford to drag its feet on making these changes.  “The need for urgency in adopting a solution cannot be overstressed. The already narrow window for a reasonable solution is closing fast,” the commission wrote.

The New Jersey League of  Municipalities is often viewed as  a “conservative” organization that often opposes proposed legislation that favors public employee rights regarding employment.  The fact that this organization is calling Christie’s proposed plan into questions should leave the Governor scratching his head and questioning whether there is a better option available.

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog ( approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.