The New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Labor Candidates Program has reached a monumental 868 victories with the selection of union brother David Gonzalez to fill an open seat on the Fairfield Township Council in Cumberland County.
Gonzalez, of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3975, is the third union brother and Labor Candidate School participant to be offered a seat on an elected government body in the past few weeks.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO and its affiliated public employee unions presented a plan to the State Investment Council on Wednesday to responsibly scale back the percentage of alternative investments in the state pension fund portfolio, thereby drastically reducing the astronomical fees paid to Wall Street to manage these alternatives.
The concerns of public employee unions over Wall Street management fees have intensified as the percentage of alternative investments in the state pension system has grown. In FY15, 36% of New Jersey’s pension fund portfolio was invested in alternatives such as hedge funds and private equity, significantly higher than the national average of 25% invested in alternatives. These alternative investments managed by outsiders cost New Jersey $701 million in fees and bonuses in FY15. The year before, the tab was $600 million.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Labor Candidates Program has attained its 867th election victory with the selection of union brother Barry Kushnir to the Bayonne Board of Education.
Kushnir, of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 194, will fill an open seat on the education board. Last summer, he completed the state federation’s Labor Candidates School, an intensive, nuts-and-bolts training course for union members, which contributes to the Labor Candidates Program’s unmatched record of success.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO believes it’s important to know where our legislators stand on issues that are important to working families. That’s why we are following up Monday’s Senate and Assembly voting session by attaching roll call votes for three bills of particular importance to organized labor: Pay equity for women; increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor; and expanding casino gaming to northern New Jersey.
The New Jersey Supreme Court held oral arguments Monday in a case brought by public retirees over the indefinite suspension of cost-of-living adjustments to their pensions. The Senate and Assembly held full voting sessions, and advocates for gender pay equity held a press conference to urge the governor to sign the legislation.
Here is a rundown of the action:
COLA Case. Attorneys for public-sector retirees argued that cost-of-living adjustments are part of their pension benefits package to which they have a contractual right that cannot be taken away. Cost-of-living adjustments were eliminated in 2011, triggering the lawsuit. Lower courts have ruled in favor of the retirees. The case will be decided by June 30.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO commends Amalgamated Bank for championing fair wages though a $15 per hour minimum enacted by the board in August. By empowering its employees, Amalgamated Bank has made them greater partners in their success and has set an example for all businesses to follow.
Keith Mestrich, CEO of the New York City-based bank, made his commitment to workers and equitable wages clear in a compelling opinion piece that you can read HERE.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO urges all affiliates, union allies, legislators and community partners to continue to stand with Trenton Wyndham Garden Hotel workers, whose employment conditions have continued to deteriorate over the past year and whose owner has refused to bargain for a new contract.
Hotel owner Edison Holding/Welcome Hotel Group LLC canceled workers’ health insurance, quit paying for earned time off and changed the compensation structure for working banquets so that employees earn far less than before. Most recently, workers who have not been laid off have seen their paychecks bounce. This is a disgrace.
Senate and Assembly committees met in Trenton on Monday. Here is a summary of the day’s legislative action:
Pay Equity (S-992/A-2750). The Assembly State and Local Government Committee advanced a bill designed to strengthen protections against employment discrimination and promote equal pay for women.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has been a long-time advocate of equal pay for equal work, and we expressed our support for this bill in committee today. The party-line vote was 3 to 2. Democratic Assembly members Troy Singleton, Pam Lampitt and Nicholas Chiaravalloti voted yes. Republican Assembly members Michael Patrick Carroll and Jay Webber voted no.
The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate last month.