Takeover must protect collective bargaining rights in Atlantic City, assembly speaker says

Atlantic City police patch

Legislation allowing the state to take over Atlantic City must protect workers’ collective bargaining rights, especially public safety workers, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said on Wednesday.

The state would be able to amend or terminate these contracts, under the current wording. The bill also mentions the option that early retirement benefits could be used to avoid layoffs.

“Everyone knows Atlantic City needs help, but we cannot do so while trampling collective bargaining rights,” said Prieto, D-Hudson/Bergen. “Collective bargaining rights should be sacrosanct, notably for police and firefighters who put their lives at risk daily. We can accomplish our goals for Atlantic City while respecting the rights of police, firefighters and (other) workers.”

Prieto said he would not stand in the way of any negotiated agreement between the governor’s office, Atlantic City’s mayor and city council and its public worker unions, but he otherwise wants any takeover bill to protect collective bargaining.

He called for the governor, legislative leaders and city officials to meet to reach a compromise.

The state has had oversight of the city’s finances since 2010, Prieto noted.

ATLANTIC CITY — A draft bill would give the state complete control of the city’s finances, removing powers from the municipal government and granting them to the state.

“We don’t need to destroy collective bargaining rights to fix Atlantic City,” he said.

He also wants to make sure that the city would not be exempt from unfair labor practice rules and wants to limit the bill’s scope in Atlantic City.