Governor Christie says he's no Scott Walker, and he's right. Christie has no intention of stripping away labor's collective bargaining rights — he just ignores them.
Christie's budget speech Tuesday laid bare his own, "new normal" version of collective bargaining which amounts to bypassing the labor unions. Here is a short version of how it works: Hammer out a compromise with legislative leaders that forces public employees to shell out higher contributions toward pensions and pay 30 percent of their health insurance costs.
Odds are that Christie will be successful on this issue — leaders in both parties will round up the votes, pass it and send it to him. Once the new benefits become law, they are a non-negotiable item when and if Christie's lawyers finally sit down around an actual bargaining table to work out the terms of the next state employee contract. The current one expires June 30.
A collective bargaining law, who really needs that? Cut out the middleman, the loathsome union leaders with their bullhorns and whistles and the union members with their loud, primary-color T-shirts and all that cash they pour into Democratic coffers. Weaken them. Outwit them at their own game. [emphasis mine]Christie has legislated around the collective bargaining process, effectively negating it. Don't be fooled into giving him credit for "not going as far" as Scott Walker up in Wisconsin; in some ways, he's done far worse.