Unfair labor charges filed against Christie over health care bargaining

TRENTON – The Communication Workers of America (CWA) has filed unfair labor charges against Gov. Chris Christie’s administration with the Public Employment Relations Commission.

The claim alleges that Christie deprived 40,000 CWA workers the right to collectively bargain health benefits.

The CWA offered a health care concession package at the table in March, but was rebuffed by Christie’s administration.

“The Christie Administration’s refusal to negotiate health care and to respond to CWA’s proposal violates the State’s obligation to negotiate in good faith over terms and conditions of employment, including health benefits,” the claim states.

Hetty Rosenstein, CWA state director said in a release today, “(F)or two months, Governor Christie has given no indication that he has even read it, let alone that is prepared to respond to our proposal as he is legally required to do.”

Christie had said in a press conference this week that the reform package moving in the Legislature “doesn’t eat away collective bargaining rights.”

“First of all, pensions were never collectively bargained. Second of all, the public sector unions like to do it this way: they negotiate collectively certain benefits, then they run to the Legislature and get those benefits locked in by statute. And then when you go back to collective bargain with them, of course they go, well, you can’t talk about this stuff because now because this is the law; now we have this set of demands.

“They narrow the field where we can save money, and expand the field where we can spend money,” Christie said. “I would have never gone to the Legislature for this stuff if they hadn’t first.”

However, in its challenge, the CWA stated that  “Not one of the eight incidents cited by the Governor’s office involved CWA or any other union seeking to implement legislative changes to health care benefits by circumventing the negotiations process.”

Christie stated publicly in the past that workers should pay 30 percent of health care premiums, and that this should be imposed legislatively, which the CWA noted in their charge. Unfair labor charges filed against Christie over health care bargaining