NJ Public Workers Sue over Benefit Changes

September 1, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A lawsuit has been filed by more than 20 New Jersey public employee unions and individuals against Governor Chris Christie and other state officials seeking to block a law reducing pension and health care benefits.

Bloomberg reports that according to a copy of the complaint on the New Jersey Education Association’s Web site, the law deprives workers of their due process rights by suspending pension adjustments, increasing employees’ contributions, underfunding pensions, and delegating to pension committees an “unrestrained authority to reduce pension and change eligibility requirements.”  

Under the legislation, workers will be required to pay more into their pensions and for their health care, and their contributions will be calculated as a percentage of premiums instead of salary. New employees will be forced to work longer to get a full pension (see NJ Legislature Approves Cuts to Public Worker Benefits). Christie signed the legislation into law on June 28, according to Bloomberg.  

The overhaul is aimed at restoring the state pension system to 80% funding in 30 years, up from the current 62%.  

A state Superior Court judge has also filed a lawsuit claiming that the public worker pension and health benefits increases should be revoked for state judges because they unconstitutionally slash their salaries and undermine judicial independence (see NJ Judge Files Lawsuit over Public Sector Benefit Changes).