From the Courier Post Online:
With lawmakers mulling pension and health-care cuts for public workers, including a plan that would roll back retirement benefits, labor unions rallied at the State House Monday, insisting that any changes come through negotiations with the Corzine administration, not a vote by the Legislature.
The rally drew labor leaders and rank-and-file union members, including firefighters wearing helmets and turnout jackets who crammed into a State House meeting room minutes before a legislative panel approved a report that recommends slashing retirement benefits for future public workers and cutting health coverage for nearly all government employees.
In the name of trimming government expenses and reducing property taxes, the report includes calls for raising the retirement age and cutting pensions for newly hired state workers, and requiring all public employees to pay a share of their health-care premiums. Lawmakers are also considering reducing the number of state workers’ paid holidays.
Many of the reforms dealing with retirement benefits could be approved through votes by the Legislature, but the labor unions insisted that benefit changes should be hammered out at the bargaining table.