Unions file suit to block governor’s executive order

Four unions have filed a legal challenge today to Gov. Christopher Christie’s executive order that extends pay-to-play regulations to labor unions that have collective bargaining agreements with the state.

Christie issued the order last month, on his second day in office.

The unions are asking the state appellate court to stay the executive order.

“Christie is trying to govern by fiat, bypassing the legislature and making up new laws as he sees fit.  That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work,” said Hetty Rosenstein, state director for the Communications Workers of America.  “And if that’s not bad enough, he’s wielding that unconstitutional power to take away the First Amendment free speech and associational rights of working families to participate in the political process.”

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie, says the governor’s intention with this Executive Order is to level the playing field for everyone.  

“If individuals and businesses must abide by campaign donation rules in New Jersey, the same rules should apply to public employee unions.  Public policy should not be dictated by groups who have the most money to contribute in a political campaign,” Drewniak said.  “We believe that these are principles that most New Jerseyans believe in.”

A legal brief filed by the unions  — CWA, AFSCME, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Employees-Local 195 and the American Federation of Teachers — argue that the executive order: “violates separation of powers principles because it represents the quintessential exercise of legislative power; violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and similar provisions of the New Jersey Constitution; violates the Equal Protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; impermissibly expands the definition of “business entity” in the existing pay-to-play statute; incorrectly treats collective negotiations agreements as if they were contracts and agreements covered by the pay-to-play statute; imposes pay-to-play restrictions on local government entities, that far exceed the statutory framework, and improperly amends and/or repeals sections of the Employer Employee Relations Act.

Unions file suit to block governor’s executive order