User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: We'll Have the Last Word

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We'll Have the Last Word

So you thought Christie and Sweeney succeeded in making public employees pay more for their pensions and at the same time doing away with annual cost of living increases.  After all, the state passed a law to that effect.

As many of you probably know, at least part of that law has been blocked by the state supreme court.  They ruled that it is unconstitutional to make sitting judges pay more for their pensions because the increased contributions are effectively a pay cut, and the state constitution says judges' salaries cannot be diminished during their term of office.

Now it looks like the other shoe is about to drop.  Federal judges in New Hampshire and Arizona recently ruled that increases in pension contribution rates for ordinary public employees in those states are also unconstitutional.  This is because, like New Jersey, the changes were made by legislation, not negotiation with the unions. 

Why?  The US Constitution says that state cannot pass laws to impair contracts, and these states passed laws to break their contract with workers in those states to provide a pension at the contribution rates they paid when hired.  These rulings were made by district court judges, so they are not binding on other courts, but other judges will look to these ruling for guidance, and it is likely decisions in other courts will come down the same way.

In New Jersey, the unions are challenging the increased pension contributions and elimination of the COLA because workers served on their jobs with the understanding that the contribution rate would remain the same and that the cost of living increases will continue to be paid after retirement.

Let's hope a federal judge sticks it to Christie and forces the state to cough up the extra money for pensions.  This should bust Christie's income tax cut proposal for good.

To see more about this, check out this link.

No comments:

Post a Comment