Facing mounting pressure from cash-strapped municipalities, police unions across New Jersey have started making concessions to save officers' jobs, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Recent agreements include changes to overtime pay, health care, and other benefits. In Princeton Township, reimbursements for college tuition and uniform allowances have been cut. In Manapalan, the union agreed to contribute to health benefits a year earlier than required by its contract. Officers in the Monmouth County township will also forego overtime for the next 18 months.
The concessions signal a significant shift in union bargaining tactics, experts said. Prodded by budget pressures and a recently enacted cap on property tax increases, unions that once readily sought arbitration now opt for negotiation, said William Dressel of the New Jersey League of Municipalities. “That's a win-win situation. In some cases (unions) are giving up a lot, but you're keeping your job,” he said. “A big change in attitude.” Some union leaders cautioned that certain agreements could result in more retirements and higher costs in the future. “You're just kicking the can farther down the road to when the towns are going to be even more strapped,” said Anthony Wieners, president of the state Police Benevolent Association.