Hundreds of NJEA members gathered at the Statehouse today, the last day for Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, to keep his promise to post and pass SCR-2. That is the resolution that would put a constitutional amendment to mandate responsible pension funding on the ballot this November.
The protest, organized by NJEA's Summer Fellows, sent a clear message to the New Jersey Senate: Post the bill! Pass the bill!
Watch the day's events unfold in this full version video of 8-8-16 Decision Day
NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan led off the rally with a direct challenge to Sweeney to keep his promise and pass the bill.
“8-8-16! The day that Sen. Steve Sweeney will define, once and for all, his true character, his moral substance, his integrity—or it will define his failed leadership,” Blistan declared.
NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer reminded the crowd that NJEA's Political Action Committee (PAC) has decided to get involved in primary elections next June, saying that if the current leaders won't lead, we will find some who will. He told the crowd that it's good to "remember in November," but that our message now is that "judgment is coming soon, when we vote next June."
NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Sean Spiller acknowledged that Sweeney might not like some of what has been said about him this week, but that there's an easy solution. "Show us your answer by doing two simple things: Post the bill! Pass the bill!"
Many other NJEA leaders and members spoke out as well. Hunterdon County Education Association Vice President Marie Corfield, Trenton Education Association President Naomi Johnson-Lafleur, East Orange Education Association Vice President Brian Rock and Monroe Township Education Association member Pat Comey all fired up the crowd with demands that Sweeney keep his word and post the bill.
NJEA didn't stand alone. Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), stood in solidarity, reminding the crowd that we don't just stand for our members, but for the 99 percent who demand an economic system that doesn't give all the benefit to the 1 percent. CWA represents state and county public employees in New Jersey.
Assemblyman Dan Benson, D-Mercer, also stood to speak and called on his Senate colleagues to follow the lead of the Assembly and put the amendment on the ballot.
While Sweeney seems determined to break his word, NJEA made it clear one more time that broken promises carry consequences.