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The Mayor of Atlantic City, the Governor and legislative leadership today agreed on compromise legislation to provide the city the time and tools it needs to avoid a state takeover.

The new deal will give the City 5 months to develop a plan to balance their budget for 2017 while ensuring State financial assistance. The compromise avoids a state takeover provided the City offers the State with a balanced budget plan in that time.

Following our recent meetings with the Mayor, including a discussion with him this afternoon, the State PBA is comfortable that the City can develop a balanced budget under the conditions set by the new bill language.

The bill also includes an early retirement incentive option for AC employees. This, coupled with ongoing negotiations between the City and PBA 24, should be adequate to further the goals of a balanced budget moving forward at least as it relates to the PD.

The bill is expected to pass the Legislature in the next few days. The PBA will remain a partner to the Mayor moving forward and we are grateful for his passionate defense of the men and women of the AC PD. This compromise also would not have been possible without the insistence of Speaker Prieto that collective bargaining and fairness be protected during this difficult time.

Thank you to all the PBA members who traveled to Trenton yesterday to fight for our entire NJSPBA membership.  Assembly Speaker Prieto’s decision to delay a vote on the Atlantic City recovery legislation hopefully allows the leaders of our State, the City and the PBA to develop a fair compromise.  Any compromise needs to protect our employee collective bargaining rights and local voting rights while getting Atlantic City back on the path to fiscal recovery. Now is not the time for ego and selfishness.   The next vote on this matter is scheduled for Wednesday, please let as many of our PBA brothers and sisters as possible know that we may need support in Trenton again next Wednesday. Speaker Prieto has opened up the door to a compromised solution and now all the players need to do is just walk through it. 

"The 33,000-plus members of the New Jersey State PBA applaud Speaker Prieto for continuing to work toward positive solutions for people across New Jersey without reflexively balancing the brunt of the economic hardship directly on the backs of law enforcement officers by unfairly attacking collective bargaining agreements”

“The Atlantic City Police Department has been an active partner in helping the city during these difficult financial times.  In fact, the local PBA has agreed to four rounds of negotiations in the past two years in an effort to help keep Atlantic City safe.

“These PBA collective bargaining agreements were negotiated and renegotiated in good faith.  It would be unconscionable for the state to come in and destroy collective bargaining agreements and the trusting relationship developed between law enforcement officers and the mayor, city officials, and the residents and families in Atlantic City.”

Speaker Prieto: Collective Bargaining must be Respected in Atlantic City Takeover Bill

Calls on Negotiations to Reach Compromise

(TRENTON) - Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto on Wednesday said legislation that would allow the state to take over Atlantic City must protect collective bargaining rights for police, firefighters and other workers.

"Everyone knows Atlantic City needs help, but we cannot do so while trampling collective bargaining rights," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "Collective bargaining rights should be sacrosanct, notably for police and firefighters who put their lives at risk daily. We can accomplish our goals for Atlantic city while respecting the rights of police, firefighters and workers."

The Speaker said he would not stand in the way of any negotiated agreement between the governor's office, Atlantic City's mayor and city council and its public worker unions, but he otherwise wants any takeover bill to protect collective bargaining.

He also called for tempering rhetoric and convening a meeting between the governor, legislative leaders and city officials to reach a compromise.

"The time for negotiating through press conferences and radio sound bites is over," Prieto said.
 
"It's time for everyone to sit down, look each other in the eye and resolve this the right way." Prieto noted the state already has significant power to intervene in Atlantic City under the Local Government Supervision Act of 1947, which the state has used since 2010 to oversee the city's government under the Local Finance Board and Division of Local Government Services. The state also has authority through the transitional state aid program to compel financial actions by the city.

Meanwhile, Atlantic City has made major budget cuts and implemented recommendations from the emergency manager appointed by the governor via executive order in January 2015.

"We don't need to destroy collective bargaining rights to fix Atlantic City," Prieto said. "The state and the governor already have sufficient power over Atlantic City's finances to prevent a financial disaster, and aid agreements allow the state to compel financial actions. The governor used his own executive authority to appoint an emergency manager and special consultant, supposedly to oversee a comprehensive overhaul of Atlantic City's government. I will not run roughshod over collective bargaining rights when it's clearly not necessary."

Among other changes the Speaker is seeking in the bill is ensuring the city would not be exempt from unfair labor practice rules and limiting the scope of the bill to Atlantic City.

"A solution that protects the principle of collective bargaining while assuring the people of Atlantic City basic services will continue to be provided is within reach, as long as everyone is willing to sit down and reach a common sense agreement based on facts," Prieto said.

Members of the New Jersey Police Benevolent Association found themselves in the midst of a legislative leader this morning at their monthly meeting in Atlantic City.

It was Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32), who hurled read meat into the crowd of cops, telling them that the budget the Democratic legislature plans to submit to Gov. Chris Christie fully funds police pensions in accord with Chapter 78.

A judge earlier this month ruled that Chapter 78 does not legally bind Christie to make the full pension payment, and lawmakers expect a Christie vivisection of that portion of the Democrats’ proposed budget.

Those present at today’s PBA meeting welcomed the speaker with robust applause.

Cover photo and article compliments of PolitickerNJ.  Read more New Jersey News, Politics, Opinion, and Analysis at www.politickernj.com