NJEA President Barbara Keshishian issued the following statement in response to the pension and health benefit proposal released today by Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney:
“If you are a teacher in New Jersey, the message from Chris Christie and Steve Sweeney is chilling: ‘Don’t expect a raise. In fact, next year, we’re going to pay you less, and your compensation will drop year after year.
“At a time when Governor Christie is giving away billions of dollars in tax relief and tax breaks to millionaires and corporations, he is deliberately degrading the teaching profession in New Jersey.
“This proposal totally circumvents the collective bargaining process, and would cost the average teacher thousands of dollars in take-home pay for diminished pensions and health benefits.
“When he ran for governor, Chris Christie told teachers and school employees, and I quote: ‘I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor.’
“Chris Christie lied, and Steve Sweeney is now standing alongside him in this attack on the people who make our public schools among the best in America.
“There is nothing in this proposal that seeks to control the cost of health insurance premiums to our school districts. Where is the demand for transparency and open bidding of health insurance contracts? Where is the demand to expose the obscene brokers’ fees that are being paid in so many of our municipalities? Who are the middlemen collecting these fees, and what relationship do they have to the governor and the Senate president?
“We saw what happened in Wisconsin, when Christie’s friend Scott Walker attacked the collective bargaining rights of workers. Now, it’s happening here, and it’s unthinkable that Steve Sweeney would urge his fellow Democrats to abandon working people by denying them a voice in negotiating their compensation and their rights.”
“We are outraged at this attack on the teachers and school employees and other middle class working families in New Jersey by the governor and his ally across the aisle.”