WOODBRIDGE/RAHWAY - New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan and New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association President Ed Donnelly today released the following statement responding to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo's call to reinstate former Governor Christie's 2-percent arbitration cap.
"It is disturbing to see that just a few short months after the lapse of Governor Christie's 2-percent arbitration cap we already have a public official calling for its reinstatement. None of the data has changed and it remains as true as it was when Governor Christie was using the bully pulpit to outline his false narratives that arbitration caps can control or reduce property taxes.
Of course, County Executive DiVincenzo was among the chief cheerleaders for former Governor Christie from the very first day of his Administration, so it comes as no surprise that he would be pining away for 'the good old days' when it was standard practice to duck the responsibility of leadership and demonize our members. The County Executive should change his party affiliation. Democrats believe in collective-bargaining. His endorsed governor is gone and his rhetoric and failed agenda left with him.
Mayors and Business Administrators should bargain with law enforcement and firefighters at the local level. Salary increases are consistent with pre-arbitration cap numbers. Time and again our members have sacrificed, including when our Local's conceded millions in savings to cut longevity, lower salaries and add more steps to reach top pay. We fought for every inch against Governor Christie and his cronies when they tried to cast our members as the villains while they underfunded their obligations and took advantage of the state's pension system and we will continue to engage in that fight every day if it once again becomes necessary."
Following the release of the statement by Colligan and Donnelly on Tuesday morning, DiVincenzo renewed his request on to the Governor, Senate President and Assembly Speaker to re-enact the 2 percent cap on interest arbitration increases for police and fire employees. The County Executive issued the following response to a joint statement by NJ State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan and NJ State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association President Ed Donnelly:
“As Essex County Executive, I am more concerned with doing what is best for our 800,000 residents than I am with awarding lucrative pay increases to public employee unions. Our hard-working residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the state, and, as their representative, it is my responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep taxes from skyrocketing. One highly effective tool was the 2 percent cap on salary arbitration awards for police and fire unions. Unfortunately, the Governor and State Legislature allowed this cap to expire on December 31, 2017,” DiVincenzo said.
“In 2017, members of the Police and Fire Public Interest Arbitration Impact Task Force studied the effects of the 2 percent interest arbitration cap. And, although the task force members were divided in their opinions, the data collected showed arbitration awards for police and fire contracts were held to less than a 2 percent increase during the eight years the cap was in place. The fact that this instrument helped save New Jersey taxpayers an estimated $600 million is indisputable,” the Executive added.
“Finding ways to control the cost of government is an initiative that Essex County leaders on both sides of the political aisle support. We exhibited our solidarity in December before Governor Murphy took office by writing to our leaders in Trenton to prevent this legislation from expiring. Now more than ever, we need our Governor, Senate President and Assembly Speaker to work cooperatively and re-enact the arbitration cap,” he added.