"Governor Christie's union busting bill signing today represents a dark day for New Jersey.
"Today, the majority of democrats in the General Assembly are forced to sit idly by, again, while the Governor reaps the benefits of his divide and conquer strategy to achieve national prominence at the expense of New Jersey's residents.
"Crushing collective bargaining was the culmination of a pre-meditated crusade pitting neighbor against neighbor in an effort to drive a conservative agenda that would appeal to even the most ardent national Republicans.
"Here in New Jersey, we are still left with a Governor presiding over unemployment numbers higher than the national average and unwilling to prioritize the well-being of New Jersey's middle class.
"We are left with a Governor fighting tooth and nail against Democratic efforts to fund education, public safety and healthcare while continuing to advocate for New Jersey's millionaires.
"When the last of the ceremonial pens have been handed out at the ceremony celebrating the continued dismantling of New Jersey's working class and the final bow is taken in front of the national media by the Governor for crushing basic bargaining rights in New Jersey, the majority of Assembly Democrats will still be here ready to fight for New Jersey's working class."
-- Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan
“While we all need to tighten our belts in order to control current budget deficits, the burden should not be placed solely on the backs of middle class workers who are already struggling to provide for their families, nor should the basic principles of collective bargaining be destroyed in the process.”
-- Sen. Bob Menendez Read more
“The health and pension reform deal that passed in the State Senate is an attack on collective bargaining and a dramatic setback for middle-class New Jersey families. The State House should be a place where the Governor and Legislature work to improve the lives of working families, not take away benefits from New Jersey's teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees. Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of middle-class New Jerseyans, the Governor and Legislature should be working to make sure the wealthiest few are paying their fair share to help fix the state’s problems.”
-- Sen. Frank Lautenberg
The Mercer County Democratic party and its team of legislative incumbents, State Senator Shirley Turner, State Senator Linda Greenstein, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, and Assemblyman Dan Benson, have announced their opposition to any state legislation that would abolish the right of unions to determine benefit levels through collective bargaining.
According to County Executive Brian M. Hughes “The bill announced by Governor Christie would destroy workers’ fundamental right to bargain collectively for affordable health care. The Governor wants to fund his political agenda on the backs of our police officers and teachers, but here in Mercer County we disagree.”
“The Mercer Democrats want to make clear, in no uncertain terms, our unwavering support for the well-deserved right to collective bargaining by the hard working public employees of New Jersey. The Governor is leading our state down a dangerous path, and we will not stand idly by as he attempts to crush our unions’ access to affordable health care.”
Mercer County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Elizabeth Muoio agreed, saying “Mercer Democrats will never turn our backs on the unions and public employees that make New Jersey run. The Governor should separate any health benefit discussions from the pension reform bill.”
-- Mercer Democrats
"The Democratic Party has long been considered the party of the people. The party who cares for our neediest residents, protects the middle class and guarantees workers a prevailing wage and the fundamental right to organize. The son of a General Motors union worker I believe in these core values. I am proud to stand with the Bergen County Assembly delegation; Valerie Huttle, Gordon Johnson, Connie Wagner and Joan Voss in fighting to protect the rights of our teachers and public workers. Our state stands at a cross roads. There is without question a need to fix our pension and healthcare systems. However, the current proposal risks eliminating collective bargaining and increasing costs on the backs of middle class workers. Furthermore, these are two distinctly different issues that should be considered as such. Knee-jerk legislation is not the answer to correcting a problem which is 14 years in the making. Through collective bargaining we can find common ground with our public employees and find a remedy that is good for taxpayers and workers. I implore our Democratic state legislators to protect collective bargaining and vote NO on this legislation. "
-- Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Lou Stellato
Citing a strong belief in the principal of collective bargaining and protecting workers’ rights, Bergen County Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle(D- 37), Gordon Johnson(D- 37), Joan Voss(D- 38) and Connie Wagner(D-38) released the following joint statement:
"We were dismayed to learn that this Monday the Assembly Budget Committee will be hearing a bill which will forever alter the way of life of NJ's low-income and middle class workers."
"Through our careers as elected officials we have stood up for those that cannot fight for themselves and for the constituents we represent. This is one of those times where we will stand together to protect our low-income and middle class families from a burden that should not be placed on their backs."
"We believe that we must find a way to lower health costs before we pass the buck to workers that cannot afford to pay more. We also believe that to save the pension systems of these hard working New Jerseyans changes must be made. It is not our belief, however, that these two issues should be dealt with in the same piece of legislation and we are calling on leadership to seperate them into two stand alone bills."
"Our Democratic Party principles are to stand with the working families that unions represent. Public workers, teachers, police officers, firefighters and the many other employees who dedicate themselves to our state, deserve a seat at the bargaining table to decide their own fate. These people are New Jersey. We must continue to preserve their fundamental right to collectively bargain."
"With respect to our colleagues, we will not support this legislation."
-- Bergen County Assembly Democrats
“Clearly NJ State Health Benefits and the State Pension Plan require reform. I commend Democratic Assembly members Nellie Pou, Elease Evans and Gary Schaer for their leadership on these important issues, and I stand by them as they continue to fight for working people. It is my strong opinion that this reform needs to be treated as two separate policy issues: health benefits reform and pension reform.
“In my 20-plus years experience as Passaic County Democratic Chairman, I have long felt that collective bargaining is a cornerstone of our Party and protects the rights of hard working men and women. The necessary reform needs to be done in a systematic and inclusive way, with two-sides negotiating across the table from one another.”
"I feel strongly that issue could be solved without the need for a legislative remedy."
-- Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie
“We understand that there were ongoing negotiations last night that broke down shortly before a deal was announced. It is our belief that those negotiations should be reopened and that discussions should continue until a more equitable compromise can be reached.
“In the meantime, we urge the sponsors of the compromise legislation in both houses to split the bills; pension reform and health benefit reform are two different discussions and should be contained within two different pieces of legislation.
“We believe that the governor and legislature must make every effort to work towards consensus with all involved to ensure the final product is in its spirit and letter, truly reflective of meaningful discussion and compromise. To do otherwise would undermine the efforts for reform.”
-- New Jersey Democratic State Chairman Wisniewski and Senator Loretta Weinberg
"I oppose S 2937 being imposed on those who have dedicated their lives to serve the public. It breaks faith with these public servants. Health benefits and pensions should be negotiated at the bargaining table, not dictated by politicians. Collective bargaining is a fundamental right and must not be undermined or discarded.
“I believe in some basic values for all New Jerseyans. If you get sick, you should count on good health care. If you put in a lifetime of loyal service, your retirement should be secure."
-- Representative Rush Holt