Municipal employees in hundreds of towns across New Jersey are threatening to walk off the job if perks such as free kidneys and livers, and a Cambodian house boy upon retirement are taken from them.
The workers, reacting to a state investigation that revealed close to $40 million in excessive benefits to local government employees, said there’s no reason to change.
“Those idiots in Trenton need to learn the expression, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” said Charles Vanderbale, a Rockaway Township public works employee with 34 years on the job who noted he’s already factored the Cambodian house boy into his retirement planning. “Do you realize how expensive it would be for me to go out somewhere and pay retail for daily foot massages? People just don’t understand my $125,000 annual pension and full medical will only go so far.”
The scathing report by the State Commission of Investigation found places such as Bernardsville, Harrison and Summit routinely offer its workers their choice of organ transplants and master keys that unlock every home in their particular township.
“It’s one of those things that was just given to everyone over the years,” retired Harrison police Chief Stan Sullivan said. “I’m pretty sure I would have had to stop drinking if I hadn’t been able to get that six-pack of livers over the years. But that didn’t just benefit me. The town got an extra three or four years out of me on the job, even if that last year I didn’t actually have to show up because of accrued sick time.”
Local municipal workers stressed they gave up more promising opportunities in the private sector, opportunities that they could easily take advantage of if New Jersey politicians started toying with their hard-earned benefits.
“Here’s the thing. I have a GED and 27 years of experience putting papers in manila folders,” Victory Gardens filing clerk Maria Andersen said defiantly. “If the state of New Jersey thinks it can just up and replace someone with those kind of qualifications, then be my guest.”