The representatives of the 22nd legislative district have recently received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO. State Senator Nick Scutari, Assemblyman Jerry Green and Assemblywoman Linda Stender all possess a very good track record on the state level; Scutari is best known for his advocacy for quality education, public safety, and for the compassionate use of medical marijuana; Stender for her strong commitment to public safety, women’s health, and fair housing reform, while Green is best known for his passionate support of decent housing for all of New Jersey as chair of the Housing and Local Government Committee. Most recently, this trio stepped up to the plate in support of organized labor and in opposition to Governor Christie’s assault on health benefits for members of the labor movement. They stood tall with the labor movement while Republicans and some wayward Democrats, led by Senate President Sweeney, gave organized labor the proverbial finger. Senator Sweeney committed an act of treason against the very movement that has made him one of its leaders.
I believe that the state of municipal finances across all 566 municipalities requires concessions on the part of organized labor; I also believe that with ever-increasing property taxes, with a jobless rate that is over 9%, and with thousands of homeowners facing the prospect of foreclosure, there needs to be shared sacrifice on the part of all, organized labor included. However, I believe that the bargaining table is the place where needed reform can and should be achieved. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and other laws require employers to bargain with unions and to do so in good faith. We must not turn back the hands of time. Any and all attempts to crush the labor movement by way of legislation should be resisted and should be vehemently opposed by all progressive minded individuals and by all people of good will.
There can be no denying that many of us have benefited enormously from the labor movement, and owe much of our success to the early pioneers of the movement who had the temerity to confront unfair labor practices, harsh working conditions and exploitation. Much of what we enjoy today and take for granted, are the fruits of seeds that were sewn by people like A. Phillip Randolph, César Chávez, Samuel Gompers, John L. Lewis, Bayard Rustin, Lane Kirkland and Mary Harris Jones, to name just a few. I owe my career today to a shop steward who stood up for me when a manager wanted to preserve the job of his girl friend who had less seniority than me. I kept my job in the mail room at US Lines and the girlfriend of the boss had to go, thanks to organized labor.
I stand with elected officials who stand with organized labor, I may not always agree with them, but I will give credit where credit is due. Organized labor should not fall victim to the bully pulpit of a governor’s office, and should not be betrayed by politicians who lack an appreciation for the historic struggles that have brought us this far along the way. Governor Christie maybe willing to throw out the baby with the bath water, but if we allow that to happen, chances are the baby will die and organized labor as we know it will cease to exist. Let’s keep the baby alive, let’s support those who support organized labor.
To that end, I stand firmly with the democrats in the 22nd legislative district who stood tall with organized labor in an attempt to blunt the force of Christie’s attack. This fall I will be supporting Scutari, Green and Stender for reelection as a means of keeping the Governor in check.