February 8, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Pleasantville, NJ – New Jersey’s 2010 law requiring public employees to pay part of their health-insurance premiums expired last year, and teachers’ unions are likely to try to roll back those payments in their next contracts.
“Different locals will pursue different strategies, but I think you should expect to see that issue raised in nearly all negotiations once the sunset is reached,” said Steve Baker, director of communications for the New Jersey Education Association. The 2010 law, which revamped the state’s pension system, required teachers to pay from 3% to 35% of their premiums, depending on their salary, and school employees say that effectively was a pay cut. However, state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), a retired Atlantic City teacher, told a New Jersey School Boards Association convention last fall that the payments are “not going back to zero,” because school boards “are still in a better negotiating position.” The payments were one of several concessions state workers agreed to in exchange for increased state contributions to their pension systems, a promise Gov. Chris Christie refused to keep. Read more