The battles we are seeing in Jersey presage the greater war that will be waged nationwide, if we are ever to hope of bringing our finances under control. Yesterday Democrat Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, was forced to fire 167 police officers due to union intransigence:
Mayor Cory Booker criticized the Fraternal Order of Police for an "unwillingness to make one penny's worth of concessions in order to save jobs," and noted that all other city employee unions had made concessions in recent months.
He also slammed the union's executive board for rejecting the city's demands without putting them to a vote by the full membership.
And why did the union refuse? Fear of setting a precedent:
FOP President Derrick Hatcher defended the union's actions..."To put it out for a vote would basically be renegotiating our contract," he said
God forbid. Instead of having the force take a few dollars in pay/benefit reductions, 167 good officers lost their jobs (Newark is a tough gig), and the city will be less safe than it was yesterday. But hey - at least no one took a pay cut!
On the other side of the aisle, Chris Christie, while at the "Jeb Bush Excel in Education" annual summit in Washington, D.C., went off on his favorite target, the teacher's union, known as the NJEA:
When talking about the financial wealth of the NJEA, Christie said, “But what strikes you when you go down State Street as a new governor is that there are all these small buildings, except for two. The State House, and right across the street, the palace built by the NJEA.”
“...And I mean a palace,” Christie went on, “built with $130 million in dues they collect a year. $130 million in dues a year. So you say to yourself, ‘Well, with $130 million dues a year, they must contribute to their members’ salaries.’”
“No,” said Christie.
“‘They must be contributing to their members’ pensions,’” Christie said, before indicating that wasn’t the case.
“‘$130 million a year – all right – they’re kicking it for their member’s health benefits,’” he continued.
Again, Christie said “No.”
And the NJEA continues to allow teachers to get fired because - like the Newark FOP - it's more about their power than about their members, or the public they claim to serve.
But there is hope here. If both sides recognize the problem (and granted, both politicians involved here are mavericks), then perhaps both sides will work together to solve it, and provide their citizens with streamlined, effective government services at a fair market value.
They'd better. Or we will find someone else who will....