AFT to rally against health and pension reform

Members of the American Federation of Teachers are planning a statehouse rally and lobbying day Monday to protest the potential

Members of the American Federation of Teachers are planning a statehouse rally and lobbying day Monday to protest the potential increase in pension and health benefits contributions.

In a letter to members, AFT leadership warns that “collective bargaining is under attack,” and says Democratic leaders in both the senate and the assembly are participating in “back room” negotiations that would circumvent the right to bargain.

 “The Democratic leadership is caving in and not supporting public employees.  Instead of insisting that healthcare benefits remain a negotiable issue, they are trying to push through legislative reform involving one bill that addresses healthcare and pension reform,” the letter from union leadership says. “Senate President Stephen Sweeney (Democrat) and Speaker of the House Sheila Oliver (Democrat) are attempting to strike “deals” with Governor Christie that remove unions’ rights to bargain health benefits.”

According to an email from leadership at the Stockton Federation of Teachers, an AFT local, union  leadership was briefed on the plan formulated by Senate President Steve Sweeney to increase public employee contributions on health care and pension benefits.  Details were provided on only the cheapest health plan option, the email says information was vague.

“The press releases about the plan coming out of Sweeney’s office are deceptive and talk about a tiered payment system where the amount people pay is pegged to their income level,” the email said. “On the face of it this is true, however, when you factor in the deductible, everyone will eventually pay about 7% of their salary per year for health care before they get one cent of reimbursement. They also want to build in economic disincentives (i.e. higher costs) to the use of out of state medical facilities (read NYC and Philly where they keep the exceptional hospitals).   It is also important to point out that they have provided us with nothing in writing yet, so the final version might be worse than what I am reporting.”

The rally is planned for 9 a.m. at the statehouse in Trenton.

  AFT to rally against health and pension reform