Looking for Union workers from the 12th Congressional District.

workingfamiliesunitednj_opt

http://wfunj.openky.com/campaign/monday-april-4-2011-day-stand-solidarity

On Monday April 4th Senators R. Menendez & Rush Holt(12th district) will be speaking. If you live in the 12th Congressional district then it would be a good idea to go!

Marie Corfield on Fox

As state assemblywoman from the 23rd district, Marie will work to preserve our great public schools, create jobs, and ensure that all New Jersey citizens have the rights and services they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Family of slain police officers, firefighters protected in SB 5 revision

Sara Winfield told a legislative committee that Senate Bill 5 might keep her and other survivors of slain police officers from getting their full benefits. The controversial legislation seeks to curtail collective bargaining rights of public employees. On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers added a clause to protect the benefits of surviving spouses and families of officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty. The legislation goes before the full House today for a vote. However, one Fraternal Order of Police representative said he is not sure if the complex Senate Bill 5 language would interfere with death benefits, with or without the change. Benefits work like this: If a police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, his or her spouse and children continue to get the officer’s pay, minus any benefits they get through the pension funds. If the officer’s pay would have been raised on the force, then the survivor’s benefit goes up, too. These benefits end the day the member would have retired. At that point survivors are still eligible for pension benefits. However, Senate Bill 5 would halt all automatic pay raises, instead establishing a merit pay system. In her testimony March 17, Winfield questioned how this would affect surviving spouses’ benefits. In her testimony, Winfield said it’s one thing if raises are foregone because the city can’t afford them. That, she said, she understands. “I am concerned if SB 5 passes and when the economy recovers and they start getting raises based on their merit, that the merit my husband showed with his life will be forgotten,” Winfield said, according to a transcript of her testimony. Mike Dittoe, a spokesman for the House Republican caucus, said it was never the GOP’s intention to hurt the benefits of survivors. The Commerce and Labor Committee, which approved Senate Bill 5 on Tuesday, first added language to protect survivors of officers killed in the line of duty. According to a summary of changes to the bill, survivors would get any statutory increases in place before the bill took effect. “We tightened up that language to make sure they were not affected,” Dittoe said. However, Mike Taylor, a spokesman for the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, spent Tuesday pouring over the amendments to Senate Bill 5. He said the language in the bill is still unclear when it comes to survivors. “We’re not sure if it does or doesn’t (protect survivors),” Taylor said. Winfield’s husband, Brandy Winfield, was a member of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. On Oct. 14, 2004, he was murdered in his police cruiser. Winfield has been an outspoken critic of Senate Bill 5 on many grounds, also starring in a Fraternal Order of Police radio advertisement against the legislation. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday. jalaimo@centralohio.com 740-328-8576

Great opportunity to meet with other union members!

workingfamiliesunitednj_opt

Monday, April 4, 2011: A Day to Stand in Solidarity

April 4, 2011, marks the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. while he was in Memphis to stand with sanitation workers demanding a right to bargain collectively. We are planning a roundtable event to reflect and discuss Dr. King’s legacy, his passion for civil rights, and his strong support for workers’ rights.

The roundtable will include U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Rush Holt, Princeton University Professor and economist Paul Krugman, NJ NAACP President James Harris, Charles Hall, Jr., President of RWDSU Local 108 and Chairman of the Working Families United for New Jersey Coalition, Charles Wowkanech, New Jersey State AFL-CIO President, Sheryl Gordon, AFSCME Council 1 Executive Director, and Rahaman Muhammad, SEIU Local 617 President and SEIU New Jersey State Council President.

The event is scheduled for Monday, April 4, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. The location is the IBEW Local 269 union hall, 670 Whitehead Road, Trenton, New Jersey.

” If the unions can’t negotiate health benefits, they might as well be a sorority or fraternity.”

TRENTON — Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s plan to require public workers to kick in more for medical benefits is getting little support from his fellow Democrats, which means it may be doomed without Republican help, according to a Star-Ledger survey of lawmakers.

And as Sweeney scrambles for votes, Senate Republicans say they favor Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal, which a new non-partisan report predicts would save about 16 times more money than Sweeney’s plan next year for state workers alone. Democrats, however, have even less enthusiasm for Christie’s plan.

Of the 24 Democrats in the Senate, eight told The Star-Ledger they oppose Sweeney’s bill — leaving the bill five votes short of the 21 needed for passage unless Republicans support it.

Four Democrats are undecided, with all saying they hoped the issue would get resolved through collective bargaining but not closing the door on supporting the bill. One senator refused comment and seven did not respond to repeated phone calls from the newspaper over a four-day period.

Only four — Sweeney, Brian Stack (D-Hudson), Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) and James Beach (D-Camden) — said they support it.

When told of the survey today, Sweeney (D-Gloucester), wouldn’t speculate as to whether he would call a vote on it, saying: “The majority of the caucus is not against the plan.”

Adam Bauer, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, said Sweeney’s plan was a good starting point, “but the governor’s plan goes further with regard to savings.”

Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts noted that “without health benefits reform, we will not have the resources to double property tax relief and the Legislature will have to explain their decision to voters.”

In a March 16 letter, a senior analyst with the Office of Legislative Services said Sweeney’s bill would save the state about $22 million next year, while Christie’s plan would save about $347 million. Sweeney’s plan would save $206.2 million by the seventh year. The review only covers state workers.

Democrats who oppose the bill argue that how much public workers pay for health benefits should be decided at the bargaining table and not dictated by lawmakers.

“This stuff needs to be negotiated,” said state Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex). “Sweeney’s in a union. He should know that. If the unions can’t negotiate health benefits, they might as well be a sorority or fraternity.”

State Sen. John Girgenti (D-Passaic) said, “Clearly, something needs to be done to curb the rising costs of health benefits, and most public employees believe this as well. But it should happen through collective bargaining, not legislation.”

Some opponents cited a recent offer by the Communications Workers of America, the largest state employee union, to increase contributions after Christie said he will not negotiate medical benefits. The CWA said its plan would save $200 million by 2013.

“The union is making a reasonable offer and Christie should negotiate,” said state Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-Middlesex).

If the CWA makes a deal with Christie, Sweeney said there “would be no need” for legislation: “I think they knew I’m serious about doing legislation. Now if they can accomplish it through collective bargaining, I think the governor should attempt it.”

Some Democrats said they were undecided, even though they signed a pledge brought by the unions that stated they believed in collective bargaining. State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) signed the pledge, but said she has not ruled out supporting Sweeney’s bill or some other alternative.

Bill supporters say it’s a reasonable alternative to Christie’s plan, which calls for all public workers, regardless of income, to pay 30 percent of their medical premiums. Sweeney wants to phase in the increases over seven years and set a sliding scale of 12 to 30 percent of premiums, based on salary. Public workers pay at least 1.5 percent of their pay for health benefits.

“It should take into account someone’s salary,” said state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic). Asked whether he believed medical benefits should be collectively bargained, Whelan responded, “I don’t think we have that luxury right now.”

Matt Friedman contributed to this report.

Call your senator and tell `em to keep there hands off our pension!

Latest News

N.J. pension funds to take more risk

March 25, 2011

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
BY PAM LOBLEY
NOW THAT’S FUNNY

New Jersey’s pension funds are kind of a laughing stock. First of all, we were the first state ever to be sued for pension fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is not exactly a go-getter when it comes to ferreting out financial criminals (Madoff!), so the fact that they actually found the fraud in New Jersey means it was REALLY obvious.

The fraud began in 2001 when New Jersey increased pension benefits to teachers and state workers but didn’t put the money in to fund them. Oops. Then the state issued bonds on those funds, neglecting to mention to investors that the pensions were not adequately funded. New Jersey didn’t even fight the SEC on the charge; they settled immediately.

Contributions to pension funds have been getting the short shrift in New Jersey for a long time. Our governors have been skipping payments for years, and last year Christie did the same, skipping a required $3 billion payment.

Into this climate of rock-solid fiscal judgment comes a new idea: riskier investments for the pension funds. The traditional mix of stocks and bonds is just not performing very well: the funds have only gained an average of 3% a year for the past ten years, but they need to be averaging 8.25% a year to stay in line with expectations of growth.

So, since the stock market has been so lousy, the State Investment Council has voted 8-3 to let as much as 38% of the pension funds invest in so-called alternative investments: hedge funds, private equity, real estate and commodities.

Hey, how about some mortgage-backed securities? What could go wrong there?

These alternative investments can lead to higher rates of return, but they are riskier, and, in general, less regulated than the traditional products. The now-famous derivatives market is supposedly going to be more transparent since Wall Street reforms took place, but the SEC is still responsible for keeping watch. Congress, who is not crazy about the reforms, wants to cut the SEC’s budget so that they have less manpower, and therefore be less effective than ever. If that’s possible.

One of the new investments announced will be a $100 million investment in Centerbridge Capital Partners, a private equity firm run by Mark Gallogly, a major fundraiser for President Obama. The firm is investing in companies in trouble with the expectation that they will turn around.

That sounds like a sure thing!

State officials say that Centerbridge is a top-performing private equity fund. The unions are opposing these new investments, saying undue risk is being taken with their pensions.

Based on what we’ve learned from recent events, if Centerbridge and the investment firms end up losing the state money, it will be too bad for the pension holders. But the investment bankers will still get their bonuses and the taxpayers will have to make up the difference to the pension fund. I think I’ve seen this movie before.

The stock market has been rotten, and the governments keep raiding the pension funds, so the pensions are desperate. They NEED to make money, and are very susceptible to the get rich quick ideas from Wall Street.

Ironically, the pension funds have posted a 15% gain in the last eight months as the stock market has soared. Maybe we should just stay put for a while. Then again, who can resist a hedge fund?

Apparently, no one.

http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/state/nj-pension-funds-to-take-more-risk/print

Public Workers under attack!

Mack Cali Bldg.

Privitization of our toll roads is here. By this summer a private company will be running the Turnpike and who knows whats going to happen to the workers. We showed up today to give some support to our friends. They only allowed 55 people into the meeting so the rest of us just gathered in the lobby. Thanks to everybody that showed up , lets keep the momentum going!!