NJEA president Barbara Keshishian issued this statement following Gov. Christie ’s signing of legislation that diminishes collective bargaining for public employees and reduces pensions for current and future retirees:
“With his signature today, Gov. Christie proved once again that his promises cannot be trusted. As a gubernatorial candidate, he wrote an open letter to teachers stating that ‘nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor.’ Today, he signed legislation that strips away already-earned benefits from both current and future retirees. Under this law, many current and future retirees will see the value of their pensions drop by 40 percent or more over the course of their lives. Yet we are more than 17 months into his term and he has yet to contribute a single dollar to the pension systems. The only thing about pensions that has not changed under Gov. Christie is the state’s abject failure to make its contributions, even as the contributions required of public employees have increased.
“This is just the latest in a series of broken promises by Gov. Christie. He campaigned on one set of promises in order to get elected, but has acted on a very different agenda since taking office. He vowed to ‘make education funding a top priority,’ but slashed more than $1.3 billion from schools. He also said that ‘collective bargaining is an important safeguard for public employees and is part of a long American tradition of self government’ before refusing to bargain with public employees over changes to health benefits.
“We are not surprised that Gov. Christie broke his promises to New Jersey’s educators. He has demonstrated deep contempt for the men and women who work in our public schools from the time he started his campaign. The people of New Jersey deserve a governor who will tell them the truth.
“NJEA believes that many of the changes in this legislation are not only unfair, but also illegal. 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.”