Gov. Chris Christie says he has “love” for the collective bargaining process, even as other Republican governors are pushing to limit or end the negotiation process with public unions in their states.
The Garden State, he said, is very different from Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature have been in a standoff with unions and state Democrats for more than two weeks.
Though Christie’s relationship with state unions — especially the New Jersey Education Association — has in the past been icy, the governor indicated Wednesday that he is ready to work with them.
“Let me at them,” he said, The Associated Press reported. “Get me out of the cage and let me go.” A Christie spokesman said his administration has reached out to all the state’s major unions to schedule initial meetings with them.
If anything, Christie said, he’d like to see collective bargaining become a bigger part of how the state negotiates pay and benefits for its employees. “I’ve said let’s get rid of civil service and let everything be collectively bargained, as long as collective bargaining is fair, tough, adversarial and there’s someone in that room representing you,” he said.