TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie has signed a controversial bill into law, which requires public workers to pay more for the pension and health care benefits. The bill received bipartisan support in the Legislature, but a majority of Democratic lawmakers joined union leaders in opposition to the changes.
“This is a defining moment in New Jersey’s history. At a time when our state, along with dozens of others around the country are facing unprecedented fiscal challenges, a rarity happened. We stopped just talking about doing the big things and actually delivered,” said Christie.
“By daring to be bold and take on the risks of addressing the big issues, we are doing what was once unimaginable – saving billions of dollars for taxpayers, fixing these systems in order to save them, and providing real, long-term fiscal stability for future generations of New Jerseyans,” the governor said.
Employees will begin paying more towards their pensions tomorrow; they will pay more for their health plans as soon as current contracts expire.
The new law also eliminates annual cost-of-living pension increases for all current and future retirees.
“NJEA believes that many of the changes in this legislation are not only unfair, but also illegal,” said teachers’ union President president Barbara Keshishian. ” We will pursue legal action to protect the rights of our members and all public employees to collect the pensions and benefits that they have been promised and have earned through their public service.”
“The law signed today by Governor Christie strips 500,000 public employees of their fundamental collective bargaining rights. Only through collective bargaining do workers have a voice. This bill silences that voice, and puts collective bargaining rights for all New Jersey workers on a slippery slope,” said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech.
“The current economic conditions were not created by middle class workers in either the private or the public sector. They were created by the greed of Wall Street profiteers, yet it is middle class workers and their families who are paying for their misdeeds.”
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