TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill this week that would have given non-teaching school employees, such as teacher’s aides, custodians and cafeteria workers the same right to binding arbitration that teachers enjoy.
The bill would have given the employees the right to arbitration in any dispute with school districts, including disciplinary actions and terminations.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), a primary sponsor of the bill, criticized the governor’s veto. “It’s a shame that Gov. Christie can’t find it within himself to give to janitors, custodial workers, bus drivers, security guards, and cafeteria workers the same rights and protections over political discrimination that teachers have and should have,” he said.
The New Jersey School Boards Association praised the governor’s decision. “The legislation would have subjected economic decisions, such as a reduction of non-teaching staff due to a budgetary shortfall or enrollment decline, to binding arbitration,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “In the public’s interests, these economic decisions should remain the prerogative of local boards of education, and not be determined by an arbitrator.”
Christie also vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed workers compensation benefits for public safety workers by presuming that certain illnesses were linked to their jobs. Under the vetoed bill, public safety worker injuries, disabilities and deaths that “may be caused” by exposure to radioactive substances or carcinogens would be presumed to have resulted from their work. It also would have offered presumptions for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The governor said he vetoed the bill because in some cases it would apply to “disabilities not tethered in any work-related incident at all” and criticized sponsors for failing to obtain a fiscal analysis.
“The governor’s absolute veto is grossly irresponsible to the thousands of public safety workers who are there for us at our worst moments,” said Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “New Jersey’s public safety personnel work tirelessly, sacrificing their own safety and health to serve others in dangerous situations. They deserve the peace of mind in knowing the state will be there for them as much as they are for us.”
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