CWA reaches agreement with state, says contract offers ‘historic gains’ for New Jersey employees

District 1 of Communications Workers of America represents 35,000 workers in state government, 70,000 workers overall in N.J.

Saying the contract represents “historic gains” for the union, Communications Workers of America District 1 officials announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement with the state of New Jersey for the 35,000 workers they represent in the executive branch.

To be clear, the contract still needs to be ratified in the coming days by the full membership.

Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District 1, which represents a total of 70,000 workers in the state, seemed confident of that outcome.

“Since February, our membership has been unified in our goal of winning significant salary growth, protecting health care and recognizing telework as a new reality in many of our worksites,” he said. “When CWA fights, we win, and the strength of this agreement is a testament to our membership’s solidarity and demand for dignity at work.

“This tentative agreement delivers strongly on those goals and sets a foundation for continued work in several areas in the near future.”

According to CWA officials, highlights of the deal include:

  • The largest across-the-board package over the life of the contract since its 2007-2011 contract, with members receiving across-the-board increases of 14%, exclusive of annual step increases;
  • A livable wage for all CWA-represented members through wage adjustments for the lowest-paid state employees;
  • High-quality health care and negotiations on any future plan design issues through the State Plan Design Committee.

The agreement comes at a time when strained relationships with unions have resulted in numerous examples of work stoppages in New Jersey and across the country.

It has been a year of strikes — or near strikes.

In April, more than 9,000 teachers and faculty at Rutgers University – New Brunswick went on strike, potentially jeopardizing graduation before it was resolved.

Nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick have been on strike since Aug. 4. And numerous Starbucks locations have either voted to unionize or threatened to do so.

Nationally, it has been more of the same.

Members of the Writers Guild of America voted to end a 148-day strike earlier this week, the United Auto Workers are in the midst of a strike and 300,000 UPS workers nearly went on strike in August, before agreeing to a last-minute contract.