On Monday, June 6, 2016, the Judiciary Committee of the New Jersey Assembly voted to advance a referendum on a constitutional amendment concerning pension payments for public employees. The move, which was approved 6-2, will now make its way to a full vote in the New Jersey Assembly. If approved, the issue would go on the state's voting ballot in November.
The referendum is controversial. The referendum needed to pass through both Legislative bodies in two consecutive years to make it onto the ballot. It was approved by both the Assembly and the Senate in 2016. With Democrats holding majorities in both houses, they can bypass Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who is against the amendment.
During a hearing at the State House in Trenton, representatives of both sides of the issue argued their cases. The CEO of the New Jersey Business And Industry Association said the amendment would be "a profound game changer," while the President of the New Jersey Education Association argued that teachers they represent have never missed their pension payments, and that the state should commit to doing the same. Assemblyman Joseph Lagana said, "we have an absolute legal obligation. Unless forced to, the state will not make its payments."
It is important for all employees, public or private, to understand their rights. Not all employees have strong unions on their side, so it is important to understand one's rights when it comes to employment disputes, and proceed appropriately to make certain employers live up to their legal obligations.
Source: The Record, "N.J. Assembly committee OKs pension payment proposal," John C. Ensslin, June 6, 2016