April 11, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Atlantic City, NJ – The proposed state takeover of Atlantic City has put New Jersey’s AFL-CIO at odds with the state’s building-trades unions. Gov. Chris Christie and state Senate President Steve Sweeney believe the takeover would help the city, which will run out of money this week, but Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto says he will not send the bill to the floor until city workers’ collective-bargaining rights are protected.
The building trades unions have urged Prieto to pass the bill, in part because they hope for work constructing possible casinos in the northern part of the state, an idea Christie has said he’d drop if the Atlantic City takeover doesn’t happen. But the state AFL-CIO says the legislation in its current form would give Gov. Christie the power to void contracts, eliminate civil-service protections and other labor rights for public employees, and repeal or amend any local law in taken-over municipalities. That, President Charles Wowkanech and Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan wrote in an Apr. 6 letter to the Assembly, “would abolish democracy not only in Atlantic City, but in our state.” Read more