Republican Assemblyman Richard Merkt took Gov. Jon Corzine to task today for repealing part of the contract he negotiated with a state labor union.
Originally, the contract with Communications Workers of America called for retired state workers to pay 1.5 percent of their pensions towards health care. This aspect of the contract met with opposition from some union members, who complained that teachers had better terms. Now, workers just need to sign up to take part in a “wellness program” or regular doctor visits and health education, and then upon retirement will not have to pay anything towards health coverage.
“Governor Corzine, under no pressure to change a contract already ratified, and set to take effect, has given up millions in savings for the state taxpayers. The question is: Why would he do this?,” asked Merkt.
But the question was rhetorical.
“The only credible explanation for changing the terms of an already approved contract is to curry favor with unions in an election year,” read Merkt’s statement.
Corzine’s office did not respond directly to Merkt’s comments, but pointed to the Governor’s statements at a press conference yesterday in which he said that the state would have only made about $2 million from the co-pays over the course of four years. The “wellness program,” Corzine said, could potentially save the state much more.
“I don't think it's a meaningful change in the scope of things,” said Corzine.
Absent from Merkt’s remarks was any reference to CWA leader and ex-Corzine flame Carla Katz. GOP State Chairman Tom Wilson has been assailing Corzine over the relationship, going as far as to file a lawsuit calling for the release of emails between the two from private accounts during the period that they negotiated the contract.