Leaders from the largest state unions -- the CWA, the NJEA, AFSCME, police and firefighter groups -- banded together to rouse a crowd of 3,500 workers, according to State Police estimates. The union bosses cried out fiery condemnations of Gov. Chris Christie and Sweeney and led protest chants at the top of their lungs.Gee, ya think? Well, as a resident of New Jersey, I can unequivocally state these people make me a lot more than uneasy. It's behavior like this, across the nation, which is why they're losing. At least some Democrats stood up to this idiocy.
Lee Saunders, the number-two national officer of AFSCME, accused the state's leading politicians of being "nothing more than fronts for corporate CEOs."
"We are under attack from coast to coast," he said. "All working people are at risk when voices are silenced."
"Make no mistake: I am here because this is an orchestrated attempt to bring down the house of labor," said Rebecca Pringle, secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association, which represents 3.2 million teachers. "This is a chilling development for the labor movement in America."
Saunders anticipated that Democrats who support the bill will feel the pain in November's legislative elections.
"If we continue to mobilize the civil rights groups, the faith-based community, we can make a statement in November," he said.
That was a popular refrain.
"Do not think you can sell us out in June and buy us back in November," warned Barbara Keshishian, the NJEA president. "I am mad as hell about politicians who were elected by the people but sell their votes to the powerful."
Union workers from all stripes were fired up, booing loudly and sounding disapproving notes on a tuba at any mentions of Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Gov. Chris Christie -- who was likened to Adolf Hitler.
"We have Adolf Christie and his two generals trying to turn New Jersey into Nazi Germany," said Christopher Shelton, international vice president of CWA, referring to Sweeney and Oliver as the "generals."
Those comparisons made Democratic legislators in the crowd uneasy.
"I'm here to support the workers," Lesniak said before he took the microphone. "I'm also here to denounce the comparisons between Gov. Christie and Adolf Hitler, and Steve Sweeney and the Nazis."This SHelton thug should be removed from office if the people he purports to represent want to deal with adults.
Shelton later apologized for his comments, after rebukes from Lesniak, Sweeney and a New York-based group of Holocaust survivors.
"His remarks trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust and are an offense to all victims of Nazi crimes, Jew and non-Jew," said Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.