Last night the New Jersey Assembly voted 46 to 32 to pass a bill that would take away the collective bargaining rights of public union workers on health care and increase health care insurance costs for public workers by 35 percent. The bill would also eliminate cost of living adjustments for public workers’ pensions for 30 years. Fourteen Democratic Representatives joined all 32 of the Republicans in voting for the bill, which is expected to go to the state Senate for a vote on Monday. Republican Governor Chris Christie announced that he intends to sign the bill into law quickly.
Communications Workers of America (CWA) Vice President Chris Shelton spoke out against the bill, saying, “Stripping hundreds of thousands of workers of their basic right to collective bargaining is a fundamental betrayal of the middle class. Trenton’s anti-union bill has awoken the passions of hundreds of thousands of union members across New Jersey and across the country. They are right to be angry and they are right to speak out.”
About 10,000 union activists gathered outside the Capitol in Trenton yesterday to protest the bill. Approximately 25 union leaders were arrested, including the presidents of CWA and the New Jersey AFL-CIO.
Media Resources: Philadelphia Inquirer 6/24/11; Associated Press 6/24/11; New Jersey AFL-CIO Statement 6/23/11; Politico 6/23/11