Budget hosting servers in Chicago, London, Stockholm and Sydney. A 99.9 percent network uptime guarantee.www.ntchosting.com/budget-web-hosting.html
What is domain web hosting? Find domain name web hosting accounts provider for your domains.www.ntchosting.com/domains/what-is-domain.html
An inexpensively priced .info domain name registration + full DNS control + an easy-to-work-with domain management GUI.www.ntchosting.com/domains/info.html
Bargain Canada domains with stable hosting services - the award-winning combo for any site.www.ntchosting.com/domains/ca.html
Corzine and unions shake hands on contract
Although some vow rank-and-file opposition, state legislators say all parties to the four-year pact are winners
Thursday, February 22, 2007 BY DEBORAH HOWLETT AND JOE DONOHUE Star-Ledger Staff
The state reached a tentative agreement with its workers on a new contract yesterday after a last- ditch, 36-hour negotiating session -- and, according to the union's lead negotiator, a large measure of faith in Gov. Jon Corzine.
The deal with three unions representing 53,000 employees comes more than four months before the current contract expires, but just in time for Corzine's budget address today, his self-imposed deadline for a labor settlement.
The four-year contract, which still must be ratified by a vote of rank-and-file union members, provides 3 percent wage increases in the first two years and 3.5 percent hikes in the next two.
In exchange, state workers for the first time will pay 1.5 percent of their annual salary for health care costs. The unions also agreed to increase the minimum retirement age for new workers to 60 and limit pension payments for some highly paid employees.
Corzine said the contract was fair to all involved, despite deep dissatisfaction voiced by the presidents of two union locals that represent about 16,000 of the workers.
"This agreement is the result of our mutual commitment to the collective bargaining process, which by its nature requires compromise," the governor said.
The concessions on health care and pensions will save the state as much as $194 million next year and nearly $500 million a year by 2022.
"We think this is a fair compromise, a fair bargain," said Angelo Genova, the lawyer hired by the state to lead the negotiations.
Genova also said the agreement likely will have "a domino effect" on the contracts that local governments will negotiate with public employee and teacher unions. "The Rubicon has been crossed here," Genova said. "What's been introduced is a sea change in public-sector bargaining."
Corzine's fellow Democratic leaders in the Legislature uniformly praised the deal. "Everyone came out a winner in these negotiations -- the taxpayers, union employees and the governor," said Senate President Richard Codey (D- Essex).
Lawmakers also commended Corzine for achieving several key health and pension benefit reforms that originally had been proposed during the special legislative ses sion on property taxes.
"The governor's deal is a significant step in the right direction," said Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D- Union), who had balked at the idea of allowing the governor to negotiate the reforms rather than legislating them. "There's much more work that needs to be done, but there are a lot of good things in that contract."
Chris Shelton, regional vice president for Communications Workers of America, the largest state worker union, called the contract a "victory" for the employees. He said what the state asked of workers is "fair and reasonable" by comparison to what private-sector employees have faced.
"Those who oppose this contract because of these modest changes are living in a fantasy world of irresponsible leadership," Shelton said.
CWA Local 1034 president Carla Katz and CWA Local 1033 president Rae Raeder said they would advise their 16,000 combined members -- about half of the state workers the union represents -- to vote against the contract.
"I know what my members are willing to fight for," Katz said. "They really are angry. We are choosing to settle four months be fore our contract expired."
The contract was hammered out over the past two days in nearly nonstop talks that began late Monday and ended after 7 a.m. yesterday. When negotiations began last October, Corzine said he wanted a contract in place in time for his annual budget address.
Negotiations traditionally have dragged on until the end of June under the threat of an expiring contract. Corzine, however, sought to use the budget address as an early deadline to create leverage with the unions.
As much as the tight schedule, it was Corzine's commitment to unions and his "principled" view of collective bargaining that brought about the final agreement, according to Bob Master, lead negotiator for the CWA.
Union negotiators walked away from the bargaining table Friday, unable to reach consensus on an offer by the state that was fairly close to the final deal. But after a weekend away from the negotiations, several local presidents reconsidered the wisdom of dismissing the deal.
"This is a guy who stood up for organizing rights at Rutgers University; who spoke at our rally last summer; who made contributions to our pension for the first time in 10 years," Master said. "And we want to go to war with this guy over another percent, give or take?"
The union negotiators reconvened Monday night, for what was supposed to be a strategy session. It turned into a negotiating session. Working through the night, the framework of the deal was in place by Tuesday morning.
Negotiators worked through the night again, striking the final deal over breakfast yesterday -- just hours before Corzine's deadline
Deborah Howlett may be reached at (609) 989-0273 or dhowlett@star ledger.com. Joe Donohue may be reached at (609) 989-0208 or jdono firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 The Star-Ledger. Used by NJ.com with permission.
This domain has expired. To avoid losing your domain name, please log in your Control Panel and renew it!