The NJ AFL-CIO announced that Tracy Smith (AFSCME) and Carey Brown (CWA) won County and State seats on the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) board in the election that ended May 31, 2015. The board has significant responsibility in overseeing the dealings of the retirement system so keeping union majorities on PERS (teachers and public safety officers have their own systems and boards) is important for maintaining the integrity of the systems.

For example, the PERS board joined in the lawsuit with our union and others calling on Governor Christie to fund the system because it has a union majority. The teachers’ system (Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund-TPAF) does not have a union majority did not vote to join the suit. The majority enables the PERS board to keep moving forward with the independent audit of the excessive fees paid to the funds private money as well.

With these wins, the public sector union representatives majority on the PERS board have expanded by one vote. This year’s election included seats for State and County representatives to the board so only State or County PERS members had a vote. Next year’s election will include one seat for a Municipal representative to the board so members of PERS in local school districts will have a vote then.

“We reached out to members repeatedly to distribute educational materials about the candidates and encourage them to vote,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera. “It is important that we have continue to work with other unions through AFL-CIO and coordinate to elect board candidates that will work in our collective interests.”

Several thousand AFTNJ members are in PERS and TPAF so Chiera reported hearing from adjunct faculty and professional staff members to confirm the receipt of PERS ballots from their respective employees. “Thank you to members who participated in electing these candidates. Next year will be another important election so we will be relying on you again to remind your colleagues to vote to protect the defined benefits systems to New Jersey workers can retire with dignity.”

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