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Quick Guide to Legal Battles Between Government Workers and Gov. Christie Over Pensions and Pay

JSamantha Marcus/ NJ Advance Media for 24, 2015

TRENTON - All over New Jersey, public workers and Gov. Chris Christie have waged court fights over everything from pensions to pay raises.

They've fought in lower courts, the state Supreme Court, and, in one case, state troopers say they'll be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.

They've been after each other's legal throats after the Republican governor did not fully fund public worker pensions as the state promised to under a 2011 reform deal he cut with Democratic lawmakers. And a new legal bout erupted over a pay freeze enacted after the latest state worker contract expired without an agreement.

It's getting so you can't tell the public employee lawsuits without a scorecard. So here it is:

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Ruling Extends N.J. Public Workers' Increased Health Care Contributions

Samantha Marcus/ NJ Advance Media for By Samantha Marcus/ August 22, 2015

TRENTON - Hundreds of thousands of public workers could continue to make higher contributions toward their health insurance premiums for several more years under a new ruling by the state agency that governs public employer-employee relations.

The decision by the Public Employment Relations Commission delays when public employee unions can use contract negotiations to attempt to reduce their share of health care premiums.

Attorneys familiar with the case say it will affect public workers across New Jersey. The state's largest teachers union is already vowing the appeal the Aug. 13 decision.

In 2011, the state adopted a pension and benefit reform law that forced workers to pay more for their pensions and health care benefits and touched off a bitter fight between unions and the Christie administration.

The law raised employee health care contributions over four years from 1.5 percent of their pay to between 3 percent and 35 percent of their health care premium, depending on a worker's salary.

But there was a question as to how long the public workers would be required to make the higher health premium contribution - and when the issue could be returned to the bargaining table.

Last year, the Clementon Board of Education asked PERC to weigh in on a dispute with the local teachers union. In that school district, the final year of the four-year phase-in of higher health insurance contributions coincided with the first year of a new contract. The teachers union - the Clementon Education Association - argued that after four years, health benefits should be back in play at the bargaining table. The school district said they should remain in place until the next round of contract talks.

PERC agreed with the school board ruled that the union can't yet negotiate premium contributions.

"The Legislature's intent was to ensure that public employers and employees were sharing the cost of health insurance premiums, and this decision further cements the Legislature's intent. This enables public employers the tool to maximize that contribution for as long a period as possible, and that's a great benefit to taxpayers and public employers throughout the state," said Melissa Ferrara, an attorney who represented the Clementon School Board of Education before PERC.

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PSMA Retirees' Network Update

The Retiree Network is establishing a Coordinating Committee to develop bylaws and increase membership recruitment. If you are interested in serving on the Coordinating Committee please send an email to Barry Chalofsky at

The Retiree Network will be scheduling a Breakfast Meeting in September - look for the email!

PSMA Retirees' Network membership continues to grow and is now almost 40 members! We need each member to get at least one new member to join. Don't think that because you are retired you are not affected by what's going on in Trenton. Our pensions and health benefits are on the line, and we need support from PSMA and IBEW Local 30 to fight for our rights. The Retiree Network is the only organization that can bring you that support - so help us grow our membership!

As many of you are aware a number of long-time PSMA members have retired from the State. While this has been a loss to PSMA we all understand that this is part of life - especially for State workers. We strongly encourage these recent retirees to join the PSMA Retirees' Network. If you know of a retired manager (or non-manager), please have him or her go to for more information.

Contribute to PSMA PAC

In order for an organization to be effective it has to have a well-funded Political Action Committee (PAC). PSMA is not allowed to use dues to given donations to candidates and political parties. All monies used for that purpose come from a separate PSMA PAC which gets its funding directly from contributions by members. This past year the PSMA PAC made some very critical donations to legislators who ended up supporting us in our quest for union legislation.

This effort requires a small contribution from everyone. Please consider donating $2.00 or more per paycheck to the PSMA PAC. You can get a special PAC dues deduction card by e-mailing, or directly from your payroll clerk. You can also send a donation to:

212 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608
Welcome to the Public Sector Managers' Association

The Public Sector Managers' Association, Inc. (PSMA) has been recognized by the State of New Jersey as the Constitutional Representative of all non- aligned/non-union managers in New Jersey government as of November 13, 1993 pursuant to Article 1, Paragraph 19 of the New Jersey State Constitution. PSMA's responsibility under that provision is to serve as a vehicle for two-way communication between the State as an employer and its managerial employees. The representation, however, is limited to managers who are PSMA dues-paying members of the State government. PSMA is a partner with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 30 which represents certain managers in State government. PSMA works closely with IBEW Local 30 on issues related to managers who are represented by IBEW Local 30 and those that are not eligible for representation.

PSMA's mission is to serve managers in New Jersey government by achieving and maintaining superior and ethical management service; promoting a high regard for our managers by those outside and within the government; and restoring equity to the human resource policies and practices of New Jersey government as they relate to managers.

PSMA Update - Mike Larkin Retires from Board of Directors and as Financial Officer

Mike Larkin, who has served as a Board Member and Financial Officer for more than 20 years has retired from the PSMA Board as of August 4, 2015. Mike Larkin has been a PSMA member almost from the inception of the organization. He joined the board in the mid-1990s and has been very involved in many aspects of board activities, including serving as 2nd Vice President and chairing the Scholarship Committee. Mike was the Chief Auditor in the Office of Internal Audit at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. He retired from that position in 2011, but continued serving PSMA. Mike will still be active in the PSMA Retiree Network.

The Board of Directors wants to thank Mike for his years of outstanding service to PSMA. Mike has served an instrumental role in keeping PSMA's finances sound and has help lead the way to success for IBEW Local 30. Mike will be greatly missed although we are happy to see that he will continue to be involved with the Retiree Network. We wish Mike the best of luck in his future endeavors.

At it's August 4, 2015 meeting, the Board of Directors appointed Jerry Calamia, DOL, to replace Mike as the PSMA Financial Officer. In addition, Jerry will be on the Board of Directors.

As you know, PSMA has been the voice for managers for well over 20 years. We delivered managers a union! This was not without the support of our members. Are we done fighting - Absolutely NOT! We will continue to fight for our members, but we need your help. Many felt they could sit on the sidelines and let the others fight for them. But, thankfully, for IBEW Local 30, a good number of great individuals stood up and fought together. We need your help by stepping up to continue this fight - This includes joining our Board of Directors. This is where we exchange ideas and information and strategize for our next mission - to expand collective bargaining rights to more managers.

We definitely encourage our current members to maintain their PSMA membership. There are new developments for PSMA coming down the road. Getting the Managers' Local up and running has been a challenge given all of the legal requirements and waiting periods we have had to endure. One of the initiatives we have been thoroughly researching is creating a Labor Council that includes PSMA, Local 30 and Local 33 (the Deputy Attorneys General). The Council will ultimately bring all of these professionals together to discuss issues that equally affect all of you. While PSMA has suffered a tremendous loss over the last year due to retirements and transitioning to IBEW, the Council will add an influx of resources needed to sustain the organization. The Council will bring many voices to one table and there is always strength in numbers.

Keep in mind that IBEW essentially is PSMA - many of these managers were members of PSMA before the ratification of the Union's contract. And, their mission is not complete. There are many managers that cannot be represented at this time and IBEW will continue to fight until they are. As you know, the organizing efforts for Local 30 took a lot of time and preparation. We imagine the same will hold true for the remaining managers. We may need to wait for a "friendly" administration to change some of the dynamics that bar your membership from Local 30. Whatever it takes, IBEW is taking steps today to create a coalition with the Labor Council to forge ahead.

We truly appreciate your support and your affiliation with PSMA as we continue to be the voice for all State managers. Please let Lisa Ginther, PSMA Executive Director, know if you have any questions, or if you're interested in joining our Board. You can also get involved with the IBEW process of organizing Y, V & W employees by emailing her at

We ask that you speak to other managers, especially managers that supervise other managers, to get them to join PSMA - please have them visit the PSMA Website!

Thank you for your support and loyalty to the only professional organization for NJ State Managers - formed by State Managers.

All the best,

Stanley V. Cach, President
Public Sector Managers' Association

Christie Vetoes Two Proposals to Inject Some Funds into Pension Plans

John Reitmeyer/NJ Spotlight/August 11, 2015

Democrats called using unexpected revenues for one-time cash infusion and making quarterly payments that could boost return on state's investments

Gov. Chris Christie yesterday rejected two public-employee pension-funding bills that Democrats who control the Legislature had advanced in response to the state's practice of underfunding or not funding employer contributions to those retirement plans.

Christie vetoed a measure that would have required the state to make quarterly contributions to the pension system, and he also vetoed a bill that called for a special $300 million infusion of funds this year.

The vetoes, announced yesterday afternoon, were not unexpected, since Christie and legislative leaders have been feuding for more than a year over what to do about the pension system and its $40 billion unfunded liability.

While the Republican Christie wants to follow up a series of benefits changes enacted in 2011 with more reforms, Democrats have maintained the state should instead find ways to increase employer contributions into the pension system, which covers an estimated 770,000 current and retired workers.

Traditionally, governors make the state's annual pension contribution in late June, coinciding with the end of the fiscal year. But that practice has effectively made the pension contribution a de facto rainy day fund for the budget, which the state constitution requires to be balanced each year.

For example, when Christie faced a $1 billion budget deficit last year after tax collections failed to live up to his lofty forecasts, he cut nearly $900 million from the budgeted state pension payment to help keep spending in line with revenues.

And that was just the latest underfunding by Christie and his predecessors over the last two decades. Democrats, with the backing of public-worker union leaders, pitched making quarterly payments as a way to ensure at least some funds get into the $80 billion pension system during the course of the fiscal year. Since the pension system is professionally managed, they argued, the quarterly payments would also translate into increased investment earnings.

But Christie's veto message for the quarterly payment bill called the proposal "an improper and unwarranted intrusion upon the longstanding executive prerogative."

"Enacting new laws to compel specific payments on specific dates does nothing at all to repair or reform the fundamentally unsustainable pension and health benefits systems currently in place," Christie said.

The Democrats sought the $300 million state pension payment after it became clear that tax collections during the fiscal year that ended June 30 were going to outpace forecasts. But Christie, in his veto message, called that idea "accounting gimmickry."

"The legislative majority should embrace reality and join with my Administration in a realistic discussion of necessary reforms to the pension and health benefits systems," he said.

Democratic legislative leaders criticized Christie's actions.

"Every dollar we put in now saves three dollars in the future. Making this payment upfront would generate millions in additional investment income at the same time it helps to reduce debt and protect against another downgrade in the state's credit rating," said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).

"Ignoring ready-to-enact solutions to New Jersey's pension and fiscal woes is an insult to the hardworking New Jerseyans whose jobs keep this state running, educate our children and help to fuel the state economy," said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic).

Public-worker union leaders also lined up to criticize Christie's vetoes.

"Gov. Christie owes New Jersey's taxpayers an explanation for why he refuses to take even the smallest steps to stabilize the system and lower the long-term cost of fixing the problem the state has created for itself," said Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association.

"Even when the State has the money -- or when it wouldn't cost a penny -- Governor Christie acts to deliberately harm the pension systems that 1 in 10 New Jerseyan's depend upon," said Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the Communications Workers of America.
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