This week, CWA and several other unions filed a lawsuit against Governor Chris Christie over his refusal to make promised payments to the pension systems covering state workers. The suit seeks to stop Christie from plundering $900 million from the 2014 budget's appropriated pension payment, along with his plans to slash the legally required $2.24 billion payment for fiscal year 2015 to less than $700 million.
"Governor Chris Christie has broken New Jersey's economy. Now, not only has he broken his word by failing to make promised pension payments, he's breaking the law in the process," said Hetty Rosenstein, CWA NJ State Director. "Workers have done their part and are paying more. Governor Christie needs to do his part by following the very law he touted and signed."
The CWA lawsuit was joined by the Professional Firefighters Association of NJ (PFANJ), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFTPE) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU). A hearing on the combined lawsuit is set for June 25.
Christie wants to divert the required payment to the state's pension system to fill the gaps in his troubled budget. And on Monday, the governor said that if he loses the court battle, he doesn't have any other ideas on how to balance New Jersey's finances.
Three years ago, Christie and state legislators pushed through massive cuts to public workers' pension benefits. They raised workers' pension contributions, increased the age of retirement and eliminated cost-of-living adjustments. Christie and the lawmakers who supported the changes pledged that the state would begin to make bigger payments each year to the pension system to make up for the state's almost non-existent contributions over the past 17 years.
Workers have continually made their contributions and held up their end of the bargain. But now the governor is reneging on that promise and putting public workers' pensions at risk. The state estimates that its unfunded pension liability is $52 billion.