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Spring Lake, N.J. by Nick Harris/Flickr

Furloughed NJ State Workers Will Get Paid, Thanks to AFSCME

New Jersey state workers who were needlessly furloughed will get back pay, thanks to the tireless advocacy by members of AFSCME New Jersey.

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By JOCELYN ALCOX and KEVIN HANES Worth the Fight Organizing State & Local Budgets

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey state workers who were furloughed for up to three days over the Fourth of July weekend through no fault of their own will be paid for those days.

More than a month after Governor Chris Christie manufactured a budget stalemate that resulted in tens of thousands of state workers being furloughed, he signed legislation providing back pay to those employees.

The Aug. 1 signing came one day after the General Assembly voted unanimously to amend the state budget to pay more than 30,000 workers who were prevented from working during that time. The New Jersey Senate unanimously approved back pay legislation earlier in July.

Christie declared a state of emergency just before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, citing an alleged budget impasse. The reality was that Christie was determined to hold the state hostage to promote his plan to gut the Horizon health care plan that serves New Jersey’s neediest families. As “non-essential” government agencies were shuttered and state-run beaches were closed, Christie took a state-funded vacation with his family on an otherwise empty beach.

The furlough left many AFSCME New Jersey members scrambling to get by, wondering if they would ever be made whole. But they stepped up to apply pressure on the governor and the state legislature to demand restitution for being locked out of their jobs.

AFSCME New Jersey also filed grievances and unfair labor practice complaints with the state labor board. Since state employees did not cause the shutdown, AFSCME New Jersey argued, they shouldn’t have been made to suffer as the pawns in Christie’s political game.

Because of the pressure AFSCME New Jersey members applied to Christie and legislators like Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, all those affected will get the pay they deserve.