Union laws are all over the news lately. Recently, a Wisconsin Supreme Court judge struck down an anti-union law proposal, and now in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie struck a deal with Democratic State Senate president Stephen Sweeney to have public employees pay more for pension and health benefits. Not surprisingly, the law was controversial, and the Assembly Democrats have not supported it. Were the bill to pass, health benefits for workers would be legislated and not negotiated, and bargaining rights were be severely diminished — if not altogether removed.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver had this to say about the dissonance:
"I continue to believe that we need health-benefits reform to protect taxpayers, but I have maintained all along that there needed to be significant support in my caucus to move forward. We are not there yet."
Her fellow Assemblyman John McKeon stated that health benefits should be settled at the bargaining table, and I'm inclined to agree. It's within workers' rights to expect bargaining possibilities, and taking them away is a blow to morale. I'm also surprised that Christie would think this is a good idea, given the negative fervor the similar bill caused in Wisconsin.