New Jersey Cuts Benefits to Union Workers, Other States Follow

July 31, 2011

Unions are a big deal in New York and New Jersey. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, in 2010, union members accounted for 24.2 percent of wage and salary workers in New York and 17.1 percent in New Jersey. And that's a drop of 1 percent in New York and 2.2 percent in New Jersey from 2009.

Unions have steadily declined in the last 15 years, the bureau reports. While union membership in both states are at a current low, they were still well above the national rate in 2010. New York's union membership was 1,959,000 in 2010 and in New Jersey, about 637,000 workers belong to a union.
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New Jersey Employment Lawyers seek to protect union employees as well as others who aren't protected by unions. Coalitions of workers have helped establish strong benefits, better pay and helped reduce workplace discrimination for years. But as states face budget crises, many officials have begun making difficult cuts, including to unions.

Most will remember how in early 2011, Wisconsin teachers protested at the state capital building after the state's governor sought to cut $900 million from educators. The Hartford Court recently reported that 7,500 state employees in Connecticut could face changes to healthcare and pension benefits and a two-year wage freeze in exchange for four years of no layoffs.

New Jersey's move in June addressed a deep budget crisis when officials realized the state's pension and health plans are underfunded by $110 billion, CBS News reported. So, in response, the state passed a law that requires public employees to begin contributing several thousand dollars more for their benefits. State leaders believe it will be a model for other struggling states.

CBS News cites Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan as other states who have asked public employees to start contributing for their benefits. Florida also passed legislation doing the same.

Collective bargaining agreements are powerful tools that help protect employees from unfair work conditions, a lack of benefits and other perks. But if states or businesses that entered into the agreements don't honor them, employees should seek a New Jersey Employment Lawyer who can straighten these things out.

Sometimes, filing a lawsuit is the best way to resolve the issues, and sometimes the gap can be bridged through other means. But consulting with an experienced and aggressive law firm can be essential to assure the employees are afforded all the rights and benefits that are contractually guaranteed.

According to the bureau of labor statistics, 31 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the 11.9 percent United States average in 2010. Last year, 19 states had a rate higher than the country's average. In New York, New Jersey, California, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, the union membership rate was 17 percent or more of the workforce. Southeastern states -- Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana -- had the lowest union membership rates, at 4.9 percent or less.

If you feel your employer has discriminated against you in New York or New Jersey, contact the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997. We are located in East Hanover, N.J. and Midtown Manhattan on Broadway.

Additional Resources:

NJ cuts union benefits; will ax fall nationwide?, by Jim Axelrod, CBS News

Union Leaders Will Consider Next Move on Monday, by Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant