From the AFL-CIO blog -- NJ’s Christie Used ‘60 Minutes’ Platform to Attack Public Workers:
Last night’s “60 Minutes” report on the budget crises and shortfalls many state and local governments face could have been written by anti-worker, anti-union New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who used his airtime to slam public employees and their unions as the root cause for the huge budget gaps. Yet 60 Minutes did not give one second of airtime to a public employee or union spokesperson.
Throughout the report, writes Media Matters’ Jamison Foser: CBS allows Christie, New Jersey’s Republican governor, to launch attacks on unions and make unsupported claims about budget problems, all without ever challenging his assertions and without including substantive disagreement from Christie critics… If Christie didn’t get a producer credit on the 60 Minutes segment, he should have.
BTW, “60 Minutes” producers never even contacted the AFL-CIO for input or comments. AFSCME President Gerald McEntee says Christie “is more interested in scoring political points than solving state and local budget challenges and getting the economy moving.” The fact is, hundreds of thousands of public employees, just like private-sector employees, have been laid off and taken pay and benefit cuts—even as Wall Street executives lined their pockets with taxpayer money and took home huge bonuses. And as [the report] noted, much of the pension problem stems from the fact that politicians did not contribute to their pension funds.
While politicians like Christie rail against the pensions public employees have secured through collective bargaining—painting them as overly generous golden parachutes, McEntee notes the average annual pension for an AFSCME member is $19,000, and the workers contribute 80 percent during their lifetime on the job.
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And as Media Matters noted, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO responded as well -- AFSCME Response to One-Sided 60 Minutes Report on State and Local Budgets:
Last night on 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft’s segment correctly noted that many of our state and local governments are struggling to close looming budget gaps. But his one-sided report failed to identify the root causes of this crisis, or barely recognize the sacrifices that public employees have made to help to address these deficits since our financial system nearly collapsed more than two years ago. During these difficult times, public employees have helped bring budgets back into balance by sacrificing pay and benefits. However, the 60 Minutes report relied too heavily on testimony by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie which falsely blamed public employees and unions for the fiscal challenges that have arisen because of the irresponsible behavior of Wall Street and Christie’s predecessors.
Gerald W. McEntee, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), had this to say:
“Chris Christie is more interested in scoring political points than solving state and local budget challenges and getting the economy moving. The fact is, hundreds of thousands of public employees, just like private sector employees, have been laid off and taken pay and benefit cuts – even as Wall Street executives lined their pockets with taxpayer money and took home huge bonuses. And as Steve Kroft’s report noted, much of the pension problem stems from the fact that politicians did not contribute to their pension funds.
“Contrary to what Christie would have Americans believe, public employee pensions are not the problem. The average pension for an AFSCME member is just $19,000, and eighty percent of this is contributed by the employees themselves. The challenge can be met if state and local governments, began contributing just 1.5 percent more of their budgets toward their pension funds in the years ahead.
“The long term solution to state and local fiscal challenges is a robust economy – one that is creating jobs and replenishing tax revenue. Christie’s decision to scuttle 6,000 new jobs to build a needed tunnel between New Jersey and New York shows that he’s more interested in scoring political points than he is in solving the problem.
“Public employees stand ready to help state and local governments get through the economic storm. But to suggest that they have not sacrificed is a lie, and we will not allow politicians like Chris Christie to blame the economic crisis on working and middle class Americans.”