In the midst of one of the busiest weeks on the NJEA calendar, when more than 2,000 members from across the state met in East Brunswick to attend the Jack Bertolino Summer Leadership Conference, NJEA members took time to mark another important date: the anniversary of Senate President Steve Sweeney’s failure to call for a vote on a referendum asking voters to guarantee State payments to the State pension system.
Scores of NJEA members converged on the streets of Woodbury, the heart of Sweeney’s district, to remind the public of Sweeney’s history of broken promises.
Wearing black, carrying signs, and following a bagpiper, members protested for two hours in the summer heat.
Wendell Steinhauer, who was just wrapping up his final term as NJEA president, addressed the crowds.
“Sen. Sweeney stood up in front of us at our legislative conference and promised to post the constitutional amendment,” Steinhauer recalled. “He lied to me and to all of us. I have not forgotten his broken promise, you haven’t forgotten his promise and we will never trust him again. Let’s not forget: the constitutional amendment would not have changed the law. The amendment served only to put the question of mandated quarterly pension payments to the voters. Sen. Sweeney wouldn’t let voters decide because he doesn’t trust voters, and if he won’t trust who he is elected to represent, will make sure someone—who we can trust—will represent us.”
The rally occurred in the midst of a busy summer of NJEA pension activism. In addition to canvassing members door to door across the state and working to elect pro-public education candidates at the local, county, and state level, NJEA members are also working to elect the NJEA PAC-endorsed candidate Phil Murphy for governor.
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