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New Jersey Unions Hold Unity Rally For Wisconsin Workers

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — Thousands of union workers gathered in Trenton today to express solidarity with state employees in Wisconsin who are embroiled in a budget battle with that state’s governor — a fight that is similar in many ways to the one expected in the next few months in New Jersey.

(Chanting:) “We stay until we win! We stay until we win!”

The cheers outside the New Jersey State House became the rallying cry for hundreds of union members, who say their rights are under attack.

“I was a teacher until Governor Christie cut my job,” says Karen Buerkle, once a music teacher in Neptune, NJ. “I am a Christie casualty.”

The crowd held signs and chanted in unison to protect their own rights and support their fellow members in Wisconsin, where the governor is trying to slash union benefits.

“We are going to be stronger than them,” insisted union member Sue Blaustein. “We have to win here.”

Firefighters were wearing their gear and helmets, and laborers were wearing slickers and hardhats.

bloomingdale stephanie wisconsin afl cio trenton madden New Jersey Unions Hold Unity Rally For Wisconsin Workers

(Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. Photo by David Madden)

The message from Wisconsin union leaders was, our fight is yours, too. Just ask Wisconsin AFL-CIO official Stephanie Bloomingdale (right).

“The union movement is the only thing that stands between unbridled greed and economic justice. This is our last stand for the middle class,” she told the huge crowd gathered in the rain outside the New Jersey statehouse.

Bloomingdale says her state is ground zero in a nationwide attack on union workers. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker wants to end nearly all bargaining with public employee unions to help balance his state’s budget.

State police had to step in as tempers flared between unions and anti-union protesters.

The two groups, standing only feet apart, shouted at each other while state troopers stood in the middle.

Nearby, the Tea Party and Americans for Progress, a group that favors union reform, held their own rally.

“What’s happening down the street is an attack on our future,” shouted one of the speakers, which immediately drew a round of applause from the Governor Christie supporters.

adams teri tea party madden New Jersey Unions Hold Unity Rally For Wisconsin Workers

(Teri Adams, a Tea Party member, speaks with reporters. Photo by David Madden)

“We stand in solidarity with Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Governor Christie, and all those governors across our country who are standing up to the selfish interests of public sector unions,” said Teri Adams (left), who heads up the Independence Hall affiliate of the Tea Party.

But both messages went unheard by New Jersey’s governor, who was out of state today.

Earlier, the governor had said he supports “responsible” collective bargaining. He has proposed raising the retirement age and requiring public workers to pay more for benefits.

The fight for workers’ rights has become a nationwide movement. But as states face mutli-million dollar shortfalls, it is a movement facing nationwide opposition.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio; Oren Liebermann, CBS 3

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  • Willy Brown

    The days of thug greed is over. Buh bye union dinosaurs

    • JB

      As a former private sector worker who gave up a very good career to take a job with the State of New Jersey (and join a union) I can tell you the view from both sides.
      Despite the governor’s claim of “union rich contracts”, I can tell you that I make less now then I did 10 years ago. But what I took this job for was not the money, but for the reward of the difference I make in a life.
      To quote a news report from this morning, the average resident of New Jersey makes $45,000 a year, while the average union worker makes $47,000 a year (far less then the $50 an hour a previous poster mentioned). Which is not a very large gap especially when you consider that the unions are comprised of teachers, police officers, fire fighters, public transportation workers, social workers and so on. These are the people educating our children, keeping us safe, shuttling us to and from work, relatives homes and Dr’s appointments and providing help to those who are so very much in need.
      Most of us work long hours, in sometimes unpleasant conditions and are rarely recognized for what we do. There are no employee of the month luncheons, no top performer vacations, no team building days off. Just an enormous amount of public (and internal) scrutiny when things aren’t 100% perfect.
      And remember, most of us are residents of New Jersey too. We pay the property taxes and the income taxes as well. But unlike a lot of my fellow residents, we also work in New Jersey, keeping our money here. Supportiing the economy. We don’t drive over the bridge to work in Philadelphia or the suburbs or hop the train to New York. Everything we do at work, even on our lunch break, supports the Great State of New Jersey.
      We work hard for New Jersey and we appreciate your support for us.

      • Pensieve

        Where to begin? You are paying taxes into the pot, “Willy,” because you have to like the rest of us, but unlike most of us, you are taking out much more than you take in.

        Yada, yada, we are supposed to believe you took this job merely because you wanted to make a difference in life, but unless that selfless “reward” is coupled with benefits that the rest of us don’t get, you’re up in arms. So, what’s it all about – helping others or keeping the cushy benefits at our expense?

        Oh the pity of it – no top performer vacations and special luncheons??? Are you serious? How widespread is THAT in the private sector?

        Can you give me ONE reason why we should kick in 94% of your health care costs???

        If your career is really about making a difference, demand to your union leaders that you pay your fair share. We may even then end up having enough money to pay for teachers to reduce those class sizes, thus helping the kiddies you guys claim it’s all about – and – bonus! More people can keep their teaching jobs! How generous would that be?

        Oh, by the way – public sector people “make a difference” too. That’s what all work is about – making a difference – otherwise, no one would pay anything for it.

      • Alien5

        You want me to feel bad for you? Are you friggin serious?
        I do exatly what you do and pay for health care and retirement
        Blow it out your ass

      • JB

        I fail to see where I complained about my pay. I stated that the gap was not as wide as most believe. Additionally my health insurance was roughly 20 dollars extra every two weeks compared to what I pay now. Again, not exactly a big difference. And as for time off, I get less time off now then at any other profdessional job I ever worked at.
        My job is far from easier and comes with far more hours, but the benefit of making a difference to those who couldn’t afford it outweigh the negative aspects.
        The assumptions that have been made show that few are aware of the facts but are quick to recite retoric.
        The only thing that may be true is that their is more job security. And that is what a union is for. To support you. They don’t provide you with some free pass to act as you please, but they make sure you are treated fairly. Far too many people in the private sector are “at will” employees and far too many companies abuse that loophole to practice descrimination of varying degrees. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone came to your defense when your boss tries to force you out the door because he thinks you are too old? Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen.
        And certainly there are aspects of the private sector that make a difference, I never said there weren’t. But do you want to make all police and fire departments private? All schools private? All social work for the elderly private? All road work private? Let me know who is left that can afford to pay for each of these things on their own. Until then, we work together as a state and provide our residents with some of the best programs in the country.

      • CW

        The difference is a union employee brings home that 47k where as a private sector employee pays for their own HC and gets 1/2 the time off. Your statement proves the point.

      • publiccrybabiessuk

        That is not both sides. You also cannot compare pay, you must compare pay + benefits. People in the private sector make a difference also. Public sector does not equal public service. This is a myth perpetrated by unions and left wing media.

        You took an easier job with less hours more benefits and greater job security. You are no martyr or saint. If you don’t like you pay package quit. We can replace you in a hearbeat.

      • RufusVonDufus


        You took the tears right out of my ducts!

      • Ron

        gosh, I can feel tears welling up in my eyes…

  • Dennis D

    How did these unions get permission from the Gambino Family to protest?

  • betsp

    Do your thing Democrats….scream, yell, organize all the homeless people, punch people, cuss at people, disrupt everything….the bills will still be passed and the budgets will still be balanced. Obama and crew are laughing because their dream of chaos is at hand. They didn’t expect the US people to stand against them. We outnumber the radical left and we pay the salaries of these ‘workers’. So, do your thing, then either go back to work or quit.

  • Andrew Turner

    Sorry union workers we can’t afford the generous benefit packages AND equally generous salaries. I lost 77% of my retirement in 2007with the stockmarket. In the real world if you are salary you are not entitled to overtime. Unions however seem to abuse the overtime thing, ask any public official that deals with police budgets

    • Ant

      Finally someone brought up my biggest complaint. There is no such thing as overtime when you work on salary. Some of these cops are doubling their income with OT. You want the benefits, fine. You want the pension, fine. But, you cant sit here and make 100+ thousand a year and ask for the civilian’s sympathy. ridiculous.

  • bobmac

    Gee,I hope they don’t get pnemonia.

  • Born in the USA

    How come nobody is working. Great job if you have a union job

  • wake up people

    In Nj it is a legal obligation of state workers to pay into the pension system. It is also a legal obligation for the state even though it has not been done in approx 11 of the last 13 years. This state relies on the pension system as we have seen when past Governors took the money out of it to pay other obligations. Yes years ago the state workers bailed us out, and it was never replaced. That is why the pension system is in trouble. Not because of union workers, they have consistently made payments, Nj would be in even worse shape if they didn’t. Ask the governor to require new employees to go into a private 401k plan, see what his response to that is! As far as health insurance, in the process of negotiations many union workers did not take high raises to keep their benefits. This governor would like you to believe that teachers make so much money, he tends to give the public salaries of north jersey districts! Look at your schools in south jersey, these districts do not make near what they do up there. When contracts are negotiated and you sign up for certain perks in a job, they should not be ripped away in the middle of the game! You want to change the rules, you change it for new hires, not those who now are going to lose money. We had some of the best schools in the country and they are being torn apart. People pay for education, its what makes us a better country. Again come down to South Jersey this summer and when you go to a seasonal restaurant ask your server or bartender what they do and dont be surprised if they are teachers, they need to work to make ends meet. My brother in law in the private sector will have made by the end of February what a teacher down here makes “for the 10 months they work.” Union workers are taxpayers too. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers etc. average more an hour than some state workers. No one complains about that. Governor Christie hides the facts and only gives the worst situations in Nj. Only 10% of schools are failing. We were one of the top in the country. He is not trying to cut the fat from the top, he is going after the little people! There are so many ways to help in this situation if he decided to listen. County wide superintendents and school boards. New hires go to private pensions to name a few, but you don’t change the rules of the game because you don’t like the players!

    • bustdaunions

      The rules were written by democrats who basically worked for the unions. F^^k the rules. Rip away all the racketeered graft that is public employee pensions. Tell the public employees to get in the failed Democrat-planned SSI line like the rest of us. And give states the right to file Bankruptcy.

      Trumpka is an anti-American Marxist prick.

  • BobNY

    Ah yes. Let the Union gang leaders gather the sheep to do their bidding.

  • RC

    Tom, you sound very unhappy with that miserable 60-something an hour work week with 1 vacation every 2 years,,,,Happy Friday!

  • Adheeb M.

    I’m a recently retired New Jersey state employee and I do agree that modifications to the benefit package will require adjustment. However, the public for the most part, is unaware that state employees do contribute into the pension fund their entire career. They do not have an option to ‘opt out’. For many, many years the state government DID NOT contribute into the fund as agreed to in the contract. In fact, during Christie Whitman’s administration, the state government TOOK MONEY OUT of the pension fund… money that was not theirs.

    State pensions aren’t REALLY the gravy train they’re portrayed to be … state workers contribute money they’ve earned into the pot. Too bad state government hasn’t.

    • alien5

      So why do you keep voting the democrats into office?
      So trumpka and your elected democrats can continue to fundTHEIR Gravy Train
      Wake up you lemmings

    • RufusVonDufus


      Why don’t the NJ state workers insist that their state rep’s pass a law disallowing the governor to use those funds for other things and if they don’t, vote them out as that is all they understand anyway. The biggest abusers of state money are the politicians. Vote them out!

  • Misty Wolfe

    These protesters are probably made up of the army of the millions of unemployed that Obama created. The union workers are working, the unions always pay homeless and unemployed $10/hr to protest so the workers will not miss work at $50/hr.

  • tom

    Teacher unions are not our kings, queens or bosses. They are hired by the taxpayers. So for whatever jobs they are taking that they do not happy with it then find other jobs that they like. Don’t ever let these people demand their meals, drinks, healthcares and vacations by you, the taxpayer, Many places and so many students that gorvement spend so much time and money in return almost nothing, Now it is time for you, taxpayers to stand firm and fight for at least your children and your nation and against such bad behaviors of these people. I myself have worked many years 64 hours a week, take one vacation in every two years then why I have to use my money for these people who did really poorly jobs. And I warantee you if you fire all these teachers you are going to find very fine new. loving, responsible teachers not these kinds of day time thieves cahood with democrat politicians thugs and the media pimps everyday. It is sick and sad. You taxpayers hire them to do the jobs if they wanted and you, taxpayer can fire those who are not do their jobs well. They are not your kings, queens, or bosses

  • Uncle Sam

    The taxpayers need to form a union and make their own demands. If we don’t like the offer then we go on strike. We withhold our tax payments until our demands are met.


    • Born in the USA

      we have its called the Tea Party

  • RC

    And if you get your way, ( which you will not ) – it is you who will be next. And stop splitting hairs, they are called sick days, and you get’em too. I notice you are posting your comment during work hours. Seriously , you trust government over unions who fight for job safety and decent livings? I say the idiots are next.

    • lol

      Typical union thug making threats and name calling. I am posting because I am retired not because I get a bunch of free sick days regardless if I am sick or not.

    • Uncle Sam

      My wife is a member of a union of government workers. She has seen minimal improvement since the union appeared on the scene but pays more than $800.00 annual dues. When she went to the union to request help from the union in dealing with management on a handicap ADA issue the union rep said the union not interested in helping just one person.

  • KarlQ

    Must have education vouchers …. with the power flowing to the parents to determine school for their child. End the government monopoly on education and the teacher’s union strangle hold in response to that monopoly.

    Kids would be better educated, schools would multiply and specialize, parents would become more involved, responsible and satisfied…. and the best teachers would be better paid!

    • TeachersUnionsHurtKids


  • +1 4 Cristie

    Even FDR had sense enough that it would be a big mistake to allow unions into the public sector, and next to Carter, he was one of the worst democratic presidents we’ve ever had.

  • SirGareth

    The taxpayers need to form a union and make their own demands. If we don’t like the offer then we go on strike. We withhold our tax payments until our demands are met.


  • Gus Davis

    Do unions ever get any work done? This explains why it is so expensive to use union labor and why the jobs take forever. Get back to work and maybe you’d get more respect.

  • Greg Miller

    These union guys just don’t get it…their day is done…the public realizes what thieves they are and the public (aka majority) is getting tired of it.

    • Paco

      I could not agree more. They don’t seem to get the fact that the party is over, and they must now do what non-union workers have done all their lives….Pay their own way.

  • BrainWashMePlease


  • JK in Joizey

    I say we should ALL unionize. Anyone, anybody, all kinds of workers, and all ask for the SAME pay and benefits as the public workers. That way who are they going to squeeze? Surely, we can’t squeeze ourselves to prosperity?

  • Chris Riley

    One can only wonder how much longer members of LABOR unions which represent workers in the private sector such as the teamsters, carpenters steelworkers etc, will support the political activities of LEISURE unions like the NEA,AFSCME SEIU etc. that are working to destroy the private sector that LABOR unions workers depend on.

  • fedup

    If they don’t show for work then FIRE THEM. The gravy train has left the station and it is over. We will no longer support the government workers who PRODUCE NOTHING. We should cut the size of government in HALF and they should end the pension program altogether. They should start 401Ks for the government workers and not contribute more than 3%– like in the private sector. It is over and there is no more money to make the government workers wealthy on the backs of the taxpayers.

    • ranbo

      fedup – anyone hired by the Fed Gov in the last 30 years is on a type of 401K retirement now. The old retirement system was revamped in the ’80s.

  • stevens

    There is a SERIOUS tail-wagging-the-dog problem in this country. Labor unions will, eventually, be exposed for the thugs and criminals that they are. More and more MEMBERS will start to admit (as I have) that the unions methods and motives are not honorable. Public service employees will have to admit their rights are protected by law, not by thugs. They should keep their money, unio dues are merely a political mechanism, they do not help their members. To other union members…do NOT buy into what union leadership tells you.

  • Guess Who

    Are these thugs playing hooky on the taxpayer’s dime while they are protesting? Well, they’re next.

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