Leaders from Jersey City’s police, teacher and firefighter unions released a joint statement on Thursday to express enmity with New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney for his controversial call’s this week for the U.S. Attorney from New Jersey and the New Jersey Attorney General to investigate the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Sweeney’s statements about those groups came after they said they would no longer make financial contributions to campaigns until a pension amendment was ensured for November’s ballot.
The Jersey City letter was signed by James Carroll, Esq., Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association Representative; Robert J. Kearns, Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association President; Pete Nowak, Jersey City Fire Officers Association President; Joseph Krajnik, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Jersey City; and Ron Greco, Jersey City Education Association President. Those leaders wrote that, in their opinion, “President Sweeney’s actions have only added gasoline onto a very volatile issue and it may send a message on how he plans on dealing with union matters in the future.”
The statement continued: “Often times union leaders find themselves at odds with an administration and when a matter reaches an impasse we take our concerns to the public, sometimes in the form of a campaign in support of or against a particular candidate who empathizes or disagrees with an issue. This is why we have elections.
To suggest that withdrawal of support because a legislator broke a promise is a crime is most likely incorrect in this instance and also places a chilling effect on the most basic right of the blue collar union worker, which is the right to freedom of speech via our collective bargaining representatives. At a minimum we believe President Sweeney should not have been so public with his allegations and recognized the potential future concerns of criminal reprisal by all blue collar union members should they attempt to speak out on an issue. It is a dangerous path for a democracy.”
In the statement, the Jersey City union leaders question “what President Sweeney’s actions mean.” They also urge residents of Jersey City and New Jersey as a whole to pay close attention as the matter progresses.
Carroll is a known political ally of Jersey City mayor Steve Fulop, one of Sweeney’s likely competitors in a 2017 Democratic gubernatorial primary.