Public Unions Go Postal

NJEA President Barbara Keshishian has a piece in the Star-Ledger today lambasting the Jersey paper for a general lack of support and for “ridicul[ing] NJEA’s spending $6.6 million on advertising that challenged Christie’s priorities and misinformation.” (Apparently the union’s lapdog, Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun, doesn’t compensate for negative coverage.) Writes Keshishian,
As the recent story in Wisconsin proved, Christie’s attack is part of an overall rightwing extremist strategy to demonize public employee unions — and teacher unions in particular.
In a related story, the head of the police union in Camden, John Williamson, told a Courier-Post reporter that Christie’s attack on public unions makes the Governor akin to a genocidal maniac, specifically Adolph Hitler:
Williamson did not say it directly, but quoted a historical figure to imply the countywide plan is part of a larger plot to dismantle public employee unions in New Jersey.

"We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers' salaries and take away their right to strike,'" he read aloud.
Really? “Overall rightwing extremist strategy?” Hitler? So one supposes that in this scenario Assemblyman Alex DeCroce is, say, Rudolph Hoess and the Senate Republicans are the Gestapo. I guess Mary Pat is Eva Braun. Oh, wait: non-extremists and others who don’t count themselves Third Reich aficionados also support limits on collective bargaining and changes in unsustainable pension and health care benefits.

Offensive? Totally. Stupid strategy? That too.

Keshishian (whom, to her credit, does not quote from Hitler) then goes on to demand that Fuhrer Christie sign a piece of legislation (S1940/A2773) which would require school districts that negotiate lower salary increases or benefits concessions to use the savings to hire back teachers who might have been laid off. So let’s say a district decides that student educational needs can be met more efficiently through purchases of technology or other instructional materials or programs and, therefore, lays off some teachers. That district also manages to win some concessions through collective bargaining. According to S1940, that district would be required to shelve the innovations and hire back teachers instead. (Question: do any concessions mandated by the State also require districts to hire back teachers?)

New Jersey School Boards Association’s statement against the bill.

Keshishian closes indignantly,
NJEA and its members are not going to be demonized, demoralized or unfairly criticized by a governor who is carrying out a national attack strategy on public sector unions, and whose stated goal is the privatization of public education.
Hey – at least Christie didn’t call you Hitler.

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