NAACP president says pension – benefits cuts will fall hardest on African-American workers

TRENTON – The president and CEO of the NAACP called today for state lawmakers to respect the right to collective bargaining.

Ben Jealous, president and CEO, said today a new report says moves to significantly cut the health care and pension benefits of state workers could fall hardest on New Jersey’s black middle-class – particularly on black women and black workers with professional degrees.

“We see this same pattern in many states and cities across the nation,” Jealous said in a release. “Public sector jobs are critical in communities of color and attacks on bargaining rights and health care disproportionately affect our communities. The NAACP nationally and in N.J. supports bargaining rights, not stripping these rights at this critical time. This recession will never end if benefits and wages continue to decline in all sectors. Now public workers are under attack everywhere and we stand with them.”

“Public sector jobs have served as the gateway to the middle-class for thousands of black New Jerseyans,” said Jeffrey Keefe, a professor of Labor and Employment Relations at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations and author of today’s report. “But those quality jobs are now threatened by Trenton’s proposed cuts to public workers. These cuts will fall disproportionately on African-American workers and their families, further damaging a community still struggling to recover from the economic downtown. Black women, who make up 78% of the black public sector workforce, and Black workers with professional degrees will be particularly hard hit.”

The report’s key findings include:

  • Black workers earn 93% more each year working in the public sector than the private sector ($38,091 compared to $19,698).
  • 89% of Black public employees have employer-provided health insurance, compared to just 50% of Black workers in the private sector.
  • Public sector jobs are particularly important for Black women. 78% of the Black public sector labor force is female, compared to 53% of the private sector Black work force.
  • The public sector employs five times the proportion of Black professionals as the private sector. 40% of Black workers employed in the public sector are professionals.
  • The public sector employs college-educated Black workers at 2.5 times the rate of the private sector. Approximately, 37% of Black public employees are college-educated, compared to 15% of private sector Black workers.
NAACP president says pension – benefits cuts will fall hardest on African-American workers