TRENTON – State AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech spoke before the Senate Budget Committee today in opposition the pension and benefit reform bill.
“This is an issue of union rights that should not be taking away from us,” he said. After his testimony wrapped, an extended applause continued for less than a minute. Buzz around the chamber was that members had planned an act of civil disobedience when Wowkanech’s testimony was done but clapping was all that materialized.
“This is like a divorce,” Wowkanech said, of the pension status disagreements. “The husband has a point of view and the wife has a point of view.”
But he said the state has not made its payments, and public safety unions are fairly healthy compared to other public sector union pension systems. It’s wrong, he said, for the bill’s backers to “suggest here that our system is in disarray.”
It was mismanagement by “profiteers” on Wall Street, the union leader said. “Now you’re asking us, people who work every day, who made their contribution, to say it’s our fault.”
“Do not vote this bill out of committee,” he implored the panel, where only a handful of the dozen-plus legislators were still seated