The PBA: That was then, this is now

Port Authority PBA President Paul Nunziato’s Statehouse rally rejection two years ago of Gov. Chris Christie’s public pension and benefits overhaul didn’t stop his organization today from warmly embracing Christie’s re-election.

The PAPBA is endorsing Christie in what the governor’s political strategist, Mike DuHaime, calls Christie’s second major endorsement of the season after the Laborers last month.

Although Port Authority workers fall under the public payment guidelines of New York, not New Jersey, Nunziato in solidarity with public workers here on a cold day two years ago bashed the cornerstone of Christie’s first term policy initiatives.

At a Trenton rally on March 3, 2011, the union man delivered a moving speech, invoking 9/11 and the worst single day of loss of police officers for any department in the history of the country. He attacked politicians who would scapegoat brave public sector workers.

“If pension reform is needed create a new tier and don’t change the rules in the middle of a cop or firemen’s career,” said the PBA president, son of a Port Authority police officer. “If a contribution into benefits is needed negotiate across the collective bargaining table, don’t change the law and take bargaining rights away.

“I have a message for the middle class workers of New Jersey,” he added. “When the fat cats are done pillaging our pensions and benefits and busting our unions, they will be back taking from you! The greedy corporations stole your defined pensions and put you in 401k plans to increase their profit margins. The police and firemen who protect you did not. The greedy corporations shifted their obligation to provide you with health care by diminishing benefits and forcing ever higher contributions into benefits. The police and firemen, who protect you, did not. The workers of New Jersey have to realize that we are among you. We pay the same income tax and sales tax you do.”

Nunziato sang a different note today as his union gave Christie it’s endorsement.

“Chris Christie has our backs, he’s been there every time,” Nunziato said. “When Gov. Chris Christie took office his team listened to our concerns … [and] stood behind the men and the women of the PAPBA.”

"I don't think what he's doing tonight, the method by which he's doing it helps to build a trustful relationship."
—Gov. Chris Christie reacting to President Barack Obama's speech on immigration reform.