The Communications Workers of America acknowledged today that they’ve agreed to a wage freeze and 10 furlough days in exchange for no layoffs and seven bankable paid personal days.
“Given the realities of the current economic crisis, and soaring levels of unemployment, our two top priorities in these negotiations were the protection of all of our members’ jobs and preserving the integrity of the collective bargaining agreement,” said CWA District One Vice President Chris Shelton. “We achieved those goals.”
The agreement was subject to some controversy after The Star-Ledger reported that the Corzine Administration rushed to finalize it to avoid a potentially embarrassing demonstration in front of his campaign kickoff — a picket line that the guest of honor, Vice President Joe Biden, might be hesitant to cross. Corzine yesterday dismissed that as “speculative” and said that part of the sense of urgency in getting a deal arranged was that layoff notices were posted on Friday.
Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson didn’t buy that, however, and sent a letter to Attorney General Anne Milgram asking for an investigation into what he titled a “Biden buy-off” to see if it constituted official misconduct.
“Clearly, Governor Corzine’s desire to avoid the embarrassment of having the Vice President cancel his appearance motivated Corzine to reach an agreement with the CWA,” wrote Wilson. “The fact that the governor agreed to less than he originally said was needed to meet the growing budget crises means that Jon Corzine placed his political needs ahead of his public responsibilities. “
Meanwhile, the Governor’s office touted the agreement as saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars in labor costs while avoiding layoffs.
“The agreement averts layoffs in this time of a deep national economic crisis and allows the state to continue to provide with minimal disruption the vital public services the people of New Jersey depend on,” said Corzine.