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NJ Public Workers Starting to Make Their Own Choices

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ, AFP Foundation State Director Erica Jedynak issued the following statement in response to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data indicating a 30,000-member reduction in public sector labor unions in New Jersey following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME in 2018.

“The SCOTUS decision in Janus vs. AFSCME was a game changer. Public workers in New Jersey are no longer forced to choose between their jobs and compelled speech and association.  They now have the power of choice—to decide whether their hard-earned checks are used to support unions or not. The latest data indicates workers are exercising their newfound rights by the thousands. AFP Foundation will continue its partnership with the My Pay My Say campaign to educate and support workers and would encourage workers who have questions to reach out.”

Continue reading NJ Public Workers Starting to Make Their Own Choices
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US Supreme Court Hands the Trump Administration its Second Major Victory This Week

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

June 27,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washington DC, for the second time in a week the US Supreme court gave the Trump administration a major win . First on Tuesday the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban affecting several mostly Muslim countries, offering an endorsement of the president’s executive authority on immigration in one of the hardest-fought battles of this term.

The 5-4 ruling marks the first major high court decision on a Trump administration policy and it upholds the selective travel restrictions.

Today in perhaps a more significant issue for New Jersey Taxpayers and in a major legal and political defeat for municipal and state unions, the Supreme Court ruled once again 5-4 that state government workers cannot be forced to pay so-called “fair share” fees to support collective bargaining and other union activities.

Unions claim 5 million government employees in 24 states including New Jersey and the District of Columbia will be affected by this ruling.

The so called “Janus decision” is seen as a victory for Free Speech advocates . Teachers and other public sector members will now have freedom to choose to voluntarily join a union if they decide it will serve their interests, rather than endure compulsory fees to unions that put their own agenda first. Public sector unions will no longer be able to force non-members to pay bloated “agency fees” as a condition of employment.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Unions vs Free Speech Case

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February 23,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washington DC, The Supreme Court is scheduled to return to Washington next week after nearly a month off. The justices will hear a number of important oral arguments, including a case involving free speech, and public employee unions.

Next Monday February 26th , the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in one of the most anticipated cases of the year, the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31.

This case could have an enormous impact on big union states like New Jersey and may impact many unions political influence like the NJEA.

The case focuses on Mark Janus who is not a public sector union member but has to pay fees ie inion dues anyway. Janus argues these fees “violate his free speech and free association rights.”

This case involves forcing public employees who opt out of union membership to pay a fee for the “fair share” of costs associated with collective bargaining. Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee, argues that forcing him to subsidize the union he has declined to join violates his free speech and free association rights.

The court will look at whether to overturn its 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which held that public employees could be forced to pay an agency fee.

This very issue was before the court in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died. The court deadlocked 4-4 in Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association, thereby upholding the lower court ruling in favor of the California Teachers Association.

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New Jersey is one of five of the states where government union membership rates exceed 50 percent

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New Jersey is one of five of the states where government union membership rates exceed 50 percent.

How powerful are public employee unions in your state?

By Jason Hart  /   February 26, 2015   | Watchdog.org

More than half of the public employees in 13 states are union members, and government union membership rates exceed 25 percent in 27 states.

Labor unions work against employers — local, state and federal taxpayers, in the case of public employees. While slamming labor reforms as “anti-worker,” America’s four largest unions enrich themselves and their members at taxpayer expense.

The National Education Association, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have a combined total of more than 7.5 million members.

Over 3.3 million unionized public employees work in California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, five of the states where government union membership rates exceed 50 percent.

http://watchdog.org/202460/public-unions-state/

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Union Group pushes for new ways to fund N.J. transportation projects

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Union Group pushes for new ways to fund N.J. transportation projects

February 9, 2015, 3:01 PM    Last updated: Monday, February 9, 2015, 3:03 PM
By JOHN REITMEYER
STATE HO– USE BUREAU |
The Record

A group that’s been pushing state lawmakers and Governor Christie to come up with a new way to fund transportation projects in New Jersey brought that effort to Trenton on Monday, holding a news conference to put more pressure on leaders to act.

“Now is the time for the final push,” said Tom Bracken, chairman of Forward New Jersey, a group made up of 75 different organizations, including labor unions, local government representatives and business groups.

New Jersey pays for its road, bridge and rail work primarily using funds raised from borrowing and from the state’s gas tax. But later this year the revenue generated by the gas tax will be going only to pay off debt, with few funds left in the state Transportation Trust Fund for new projects.

Bracken called that “the most critical issue facing the state right now.” He stopped short of endorsing an increase of the gas tax, which at 14.5 cents per gallon is among the lowest in the country, but said it should be among the options up for discussion as the leaders try and find a solution.

“I support a long-term, sustainable, dedicated solution,” Bracken said.

Members of labor unions had the strongest presence at Monday’s event, filling much of the room.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/group-pushes-for-new-ways-to-fund-n-j-transportation-projects-1.1267743

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The Union-Driven Crisis That Could Be Coming to a City Near You

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The Union-Driven Crisis That Could Be Coming to a City Near You

Stephen Moore / @StephenMoore / January 11, 2015

For “Outrageous Government Scam of 2014,” it’s hard to compete with the news of the supersized public employee pensions in California. If you haven’t already heard: In 2013, an assistant fire chief in Southern California collected a $983,319 pension. A police captain in Los Angeles received nearly $753,861.

Talk about a golden parachute. And the report on Golden State government pensions contains a list of hundreds of “public servants” who have hit the jackpot with annual pensions of a half million dollars a year. It’s like they’re playing the game “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” with taxpayer money.

By some estimates, the unfunded public-sector pension liabilities in California have eclipsed $750 billion, which means in a few years residents will be paying their already-highest-in-the-nation income and sales taxes not for roads, bridges, schools and public safety, but for retired employees living like Daddy Warbucks.

This same scandal – only on a slightly smaller scale – is happening in most states. The crisis dates back 20 to 30 years ago, when public employee unions negotiated fat pension deals with state and local politicians that were like ticking time bombs in municipal budgets. The politicians who bought union votes didn’t care much. They’d be long gone when these grenades detonated, and the fiscal carnage began.

Americans know instinctively that this is no way to run a city or state, and that the enormous pensions border on larceny from public treasuries. This will eventually cause rip roaring problems for state and local budgets. But now we have a story from middle America of what happens when the crisis hits a financial boiling point. Look no further than Scranton, Pa.

Scranton is a middle-class, blue-collar town of 76,000 with severe financial problems. The city recently raised its property taxes for 2014 by more than 50 percent, and those taxes are expected to rise by another 20 percent in 2015. The city had to also raise various fees, such as the charge for garbage collection, by two-thirds. It’s becoming a tax hell.

These taxpayer costs are skyrocketing because the city’s auditors calculate that the police and fire pension funds will be completely depleted in three to five years. The local Times-Tribune newspaper reported last week that “pensions increased by as much as 80 percent” after a court order in 2011 awarded millions of dollars of added pensions to firefighters and police officers.

This is a town that has already been struggling for years to pay its bills. The Times-Tribune reports: “The increased pensions come at a time when Scranton, in distressed status since 1992, is struggling to survive [and faces] a $20 million deficit.” City officials admit that to pay these lucrative pensions will mean less money for school children, public safety and infrastructure needs.

Finances are so tight in this town that, late last year, the city auditor put out an advisory memo to city agencies: “Only in the event of an extreme emergency can a purchase be made. … This is a serious matter and your cooperation is expected.”

So, now, homeowners are getting squeezed on basic city services as they pay ever escalating property taxes. What a deal. Don’t be surprised as more leave Scranton, further depleting the tax base. And who would want to move there now?

When the mayor requested that the unions help keep the city afloat by renegotiating these soaring pension costs, the answer from these militant “public service” union leaders was, Hell no.

One option is for Scranton to take the Detroit route and declare bankruptcy. This is also what several California cities – such San Bernardino and Stockton – have had to do.

The California Policy Center notes that this option has the virtue of “forcing the unions to renegotiate and take a haircut.” If that doesn’t happen, cities like Scranton, and many more working-class towns, will continue to raise taxes at a time when families are already walking a financial tight rope.

The Left loves to talk about “fairness” and “inequality,” but where the inequities really exist are in towns like Scranton. Middle-class private-sector workers pay higher and higher taxes to fund public-sector pensions that, as the Manhattan Institute has shown, are often twice as generous as what most workers will receive themselves. The money for supersized pensions isn’t going to come from millionaires and billionaires like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. It is coming right out of the paychecks of working-class America.

The crisis isn’t going away. Nationwide, public employee pensions are running $1 trillion to $5 trillion in the red, depending on the rate of return expected on stocks and bonds. This could be the next housing bubble to burst. Some states like Utah have smartly moved to head off this crisis by closing down open-ended pensions and putting public sector union members in 401(k) plans that won’t bankrupt the state or municipalities. The unions are fighting this reform everywhere.

If something isn’t done quickly, the crisis in Scranton will soon be coming to a town near you.

Originally appeared in the Orange County Register.

http://dailysignal.com/2015/01/11/the-unions-driven-crisis-that-could-be-coming-to-a-city-near-you/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

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Sweeney, Kyrillos to sponsor bill that would cap unused sick pay

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Senator Joseph Kyrillos and PJ Blogger in Ridgewood

Sweeney, Kyrillos to sponsor bill that would cap unused sick pay

TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Joseph Kyrillos are renewing efforts to cap unused sick pay for public employees, according to a statement released by the state Senate today. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)

http://www.politickernj.com/76926/sweeney-kyrillos-cap-unused-sick-pay

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Reader says Just reading some of the comments from municipal pensioners and union hacks on this blog, and it’s no wonder we’re in such a mess in this state

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file photo Boyd Loving

Reader says Just reading some of the comments from municipal pensioners and union hacks on this blog, and it’s no wonder we’re in such a mess in this state

Just reading some of the comments from municipal pensioners and union hacks on this blog, and it’s no wonder we’re in such a mess in this state. They are living in fantasy land, expecting new municipal hires to be able to afford their own house and property taxes in Ridgewood, and thinking that their oversized pensions and gold plated healthcare-for-life are sustainable if we just keep raising property taxes every year… I’m not even sure these benefits were negotiated in good faith anymore judging by the comments – when you have a potential conflict of interest with former Police and Fire management on the Village Council approving outrageous wage and benefit increases, i.e. in the 2009 CBAs and again when they were re-opened in 2010, you leave the Village taxpayers with an even bigger entitlement liability. Were those CBAs really negotiated in the best interests of taxpayers when you hand out +4% annual wage increases during a recession ? All the union guys talk about is the current cost for public safety – they always ignore the future fixed costs for pensions & healthcare which will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars in the next 15 years – money that we won’t be able to use for services and improved quality of life for Villagers. Many of these retirees don’t even live in Ridgewood !