Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hundreds of Workers Protest Pension Fund Cuts

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hundreds of Workers Protest Pension Fund Cuts

Article excerpt

Hundreds of public union workers descended on the State House on Thursday to protest $2.4 billion in pension cuts they say would affect one in every 12 New Jersey residents and negatively affect the state's economy.

Wearing red and carrying signs, the roughly 350 members of the Communication Workers of America chanted so loudly they could be heard inside the building. The protest, a march from the Trenton War Memorial to the State House steps, is the first of many events planned in the coming weeks, organizers said.

"The governor of the state of New Jersey blithely and carelessly said a day ago that there was no Plan B, other than to not pay for the legally and morally committed pension plans for hundreds of thousands of workers and their families," said Hetty Rosenstein, the union's New Jersey area director. "In other words, we can't afford it with the present tax structure that rewards the wealthiest 1 percent, got to let it go bankrupt."

Rosenstein called on the state to reinstate an income tax surcharge on millionaires and corporate taxes and a freeze on "corporate giveaways."

Christie's office responded by criticizing the union's proposal to raise taxes, rather than address the increasing burden of pensions and health benefits.

"The simple fact is that raising taxes by billions of dollars to cover these costs, not just today but for their increases in the future, will cripple the economy and already overburdened families," spokesman Kevin Roberts said. "That's not acceptable."

Without offering details, Christie has been calling for additional changes to public pensions and health benefits - on top of the 2010 law requiring additional employee contributions - in recent months.

A few Democrats participated in the protest including state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, who said lawmakers are working to find a solution to fund the pensions. …

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