Senate Republican Budget Members: Murphy’s CWA Deal Is 3 Months Late, $100 Million Short
30,000+ State Employees Would Still Get 4 Percent Salary Increases
Senator Republican Budget Committee Members Steven Oroho, Sam Thompson, Declan O’Scanlon, and Michael Testa, said if a preliminary agreement announced by Governor Phil Murphy with the Communications Workers of America would continue giving out average 4 percent salary increases, then it falls far short of the savings that could be generated if the state’s public employee unions had been asked to agree to a simple wage freeze.
State employees generally receive an approximately 4 percent salary increase annually on the anniversary date of their hire, known as a “step increase.” Additionally, they receive a 2 percent salary increase (called a cost of living adjustment, or COLA) once a year. Combined, the step increase and COLA result in typical salary increases of approximately 6 percent for most unionized State employees.
The governor announced a deal with the public employee union where the COLA would be suspended, but there was no mention of the 4 percent step increases.
“Waiting three months into this crisis to look for salary savings has been administrative negligence as employees who haven’t had to report for work that whole time have still been receiving full pay plus 4 percent step increases,” said Senator Oroho. “The deal with the CWA fails to acknowledge that these employees will continue to get 4 percent pay increases even as the State is faced with a stark fiscal reality. Not accepting the extra 2 percent COLA doesn’t equate to a sacrifice, it’s simply passing on dessert.”
“Transparency is important in State government, especially in extraordinarily challenging times like this,” stated Senator O’Scanlon. “The deal announced today appears to leave out critical information about the its impact, including unsustainable 4 percent raises continuing to be given out, even where agencies have been shut for the past three months.”
Senator Thompson added, “If the deal announced today is giving out 4 percent salary increases to employees at a time when the State budget is in shambles, the Governor should have been up front about it. Committing to 4 percent salary increases isn’t appropriate while the Governor is threatening to cut Senior Freeze and important relief programs for everyone else impacted by COVID-19.”
Senator Testa stated, “At a time when folks are struggling to keep their businesses, losing their jobs, and suffering enormous hardship, it would be unconscionable to continue giving out 4 percent pay raises that increase the State budget at greater cost to taxpayers.”