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Pay Up, Christie

New Jersey unions knew this day would come when their spotlight-seeking governor would have to take responsibility for not fully funding the pension system.

A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of public unions, finding Christie’s failure to make full payments to the pension system violated New Jersey’s state constitutional obligation to workers.

This is a huge victory for workers who serve and protect the Garden State. Since Christie entered office, he has maligned and publicly attacked workers as being greedy and not deserving the salary, wages and benefits they earn. In efforts to gain more power, he steered retirement funds to unscrupulous friends and millionaire businessmen who have helped to boost his political career.

He has now been ordered to work with members of the state legislature to satisfy New Jersey’s pension obligation.

Christie must now pay for the attorney fees, disbursements and costs of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) and other unions who joined the lawsuit.

New Jersey workers paid more for healthcare and retirement benefits based on a law Christie supported in 2011, but would later disregard, by “taking a pension holiday” and underfunding the system. He in turn tried to balance the state’s budget on the backs of public workers by taking more than $2.4 billion meant for the pension system, which caused public sector unions to stand up for their rights and to hold him accountable of what he is legally bound to do as governor.

Christie has tried to increase the retirement age of workers, cut benefits and make employees pay more into state plans. The contribution rate for workers enrolled in the Public Employees’ Retirement System and Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund increased will from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent over seven years. Fire fighters rates increased from 8.5 percent to 10 percent of pay. New Jersey ranked as one of the worst states for public pensions.

The bully has been put in the corner (for now) and must demonstrate true and ethical leadership for the state of New Jersey. We are watching.

 


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