NJ State PBA President
Statement On Police & Fire
Public Interest Arbitration
Task Force Report
WOOD BRIDGE, NJ – New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan released the following statement today (Thursday, September 21, 2017) on the Police and Fire Public Interest Arbitration Task Force and called on interested parties to wait for the Task Force’s report at the end of the year instead of trying to create a false sense of urgency in advance of Election Day. Colligan also demanded that politicians refrain from using law enforcement and their families as scapegoats for government mismanagement and as “pawns in their political games.”
“It is shameful to see politicians using the 33,000 members of the PBA as chips in their game of political poker. Rather than do the responsible thing and wait for the Police and Fire Public Interest Arbitration Task Force to come back with the results of their study, they would rather join with groups like the League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Conference of Mayors and the New Jersey Association of Counties to try and score political points. They are all aware of the fact that the Task Force is in the process of examining the effect and impact of the arbitration award cap upon municipalities, public safety and police recruitment, hiring and retention. Yet, they continue to ignore the deadline for the Task Force’s report and move forward with rallies and false rhetoric designed to create a public frenzy in advance of Election Day at the expense of law enforcement and their families.
The arbitration process was created to maintain public safety by taking away law enforcement’s right to strike. The reality underlying all of this is that arbitration caps do not control or reduce property taxes and there is no correlation between the cap and taxes since the cap was instituted. And, The League of Municipalities and those politicians pandering for votes on the back of law enforcement are entitled to their opinion but not to their own facts.
All one need do is look at PERC’s own website and review the numbers over the last 25 years. Arbitrations were rare prior to the cap law as they should be. Voluntary contract settlements were moving closer to 2% and lower without the law. The League isn’t going to be honest that this happened because our Local’s conceded millions in savings to cut longevity, lower salaries and to add more steps for an officer to reach top pay. We were responsible in our negotiations and pressure to extend the cap is nothing more than a political stunt during an election year.
In fact, the League can’t even point to a single municipality in New Jersey where a contract for police was settled without arbitration that led directly to a tax increase, a reduction of other services, or a referendum to exceed the 2% property tax cap. On the other hand, the League also cannot point to a single municipality that used arbitration under the cap where the taxes have been reduced.
At the same time, municipalities saw their health benefit costs offset by Chapter 78 contributions and reductions in their pension costs for several years and municipal taxes have still not gone down. Year after year of punishing our members and their families for municipal mismanagement has resulted in more money for politicians to waste while they remain incapable of cutting taxes. False rhetoric and amped up rallies with political opportunists will not change that fact.
The League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, the New Jersey Association of Counties and every politician and political opportunist attending Friday’s rally would be better served figuring out how to actually begin cutting costs for the people they serve while they wait for the Task Force to issue their report instead of trying to use our 33,000 members as pawns in their political games.”