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Contractual dispute between state and unions heats up

Depending upon the type of work he does and the place he is employed, a Moorestown resident may be part of a union. A union groups together populations of similarly skilled or similarly employed workers and provides them with collective bargaining unit protections. A collective bargaining unit can create with a business owner a single contract that governs all of the union members at the business owner's enterprise rather than subjecting each worker to his own independent contract.

One of the benefits of a collective bargaining contract is that a union can sometimes negotiate better working conditions and retirement terms for its whole membership than a single worker can do on his own with his employer. Many individuals who work for the state of New Jersey are subject to collective bargaining units through union membership. At present some of those individuals are embroiled in a contract-based battle with Governor Christie and his administration.

Generally, union leadership and the governor's office are fighting over a reduction in state contributions to union members' pensions. Pursuant to a contract previously executed between the unions and the state, the state was to make regular and established contributions to the union members' pensions. The state government then reduced the amount it said it would pay to union member pensions and since then the matter has been working its way through the New Jersey court system.

This contractual dispute may soon find its way all the way to the state's high court and perhaps even to the United States Supreme Court if its legal issues pose novel questions of law. Contracts are generally based on an offer and acceptance format wherein once the parties agree to their terms the contracts are binding to the parties. It will be interesting to see how this collective bargaining-based contractual dispute resolves itself in the courts of New Jersey.

Source:, "N.J. public employee unions build Supreme Court case for pension funding," Samantha Marcus, April 20, 2015

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