About 800 shop stewards from the Communications Workers of America — New Jersey’s largest state workers union — are meeting at the Trenton War Memorial this morning, less than 24 hours after Gov. Christopher Christie took the oath of office in the same building.
Strategizing on how to deal with the pugnacious new governor – who was short on specifics in yesterday’s inaugural address but has vowed to make deep budget cuts — will be Topic A.
Bob Master, the union’s regional political and legislative director, said that the meeting will address “our preparations to face what we expect to be the most serious attack that we’ve seen,” where union officials will lay out steps for “internal mobilization.”
The meeting also comes just a few hours a Quinnipiac poll showed overwhelming public support for furloughs and layoffs of state workers (58%-35%) and freezing wages (71% – 23%). Pollster Maurice Carroll said that amounts to a “chopping license” for Christie.
“It’s not dissimilar from polls that have been out already. We know that when you have people scapegoating you for years on end, this is the result,” said Master. “And unfortunately, I think we have to work overtime to get our message out to the public about what we actually do and who we actually are.”
Early relations with the Christie administration have not been promising. In fact, they’ve been non-existant.
“We have reached out through various channels, and it appears at this point that the new governor is more interested in scoring political points than sitting down and at least hearing what our perspective is on the problems that we are all facing in the state together,” said Master.