It is difficult to keep up with the various coalitions of public-sector unions and their progressive allies. They pop up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. The newest iteration is “For the Many NJ” (they always have catchy names that disguise their true nature), which has inserted itself into this year’s budget discussions.
As presented in Sunlight’s report “A Spider Web of Political Power and Influence,” powerful and deep-pocketed public-sector unions like the NJEA and CWA routinely back coalitions and campaigns that give the impression of broader support for their policy positions. In other words, it makes these special interests look less special and more ordinary.
And there is a large cadre of progressive groups who are willing to play that role, often with financial and political organizing support from the NJEA. A perfect case-in-point is Gov. Murphy’s Deputy Chief of Staff Deborah Cornavaca. Cornavaca started as a political organizer for Save Our Schools, a parents’ group with strong ties to the NJEA that fights charter schools. She then joined the NJEA-funded Working Families Alliance, where she was was coordinator for the Better Choices for New Jersey coalition and the Healthy Schools Now campaign. In 2015, Cornavaca joined the NJEA as a political organizer and also served as Treasurer for the NJEA-supported Latino Action Network.
For the Many NJ is calling for expanding the millionaire’s tax and higher corporate taxes to support government spending on social services and the environment and make a $4.9 billion contribution to NJ’s worst-in-the-nation public pension system. The coalition includes: the NJEA, CWA, Working Families Alliance, Latino Action Network, Anti-Poverty Network, NJ Policy Perspective, NJ Work Environment Council, NJ Citizen Action, Clean Water Action and the NJ Sierra Club.
All of these groups have worked together before and many are members or affiliates of each other. All were previously members in the Working Families-run Better Choices coalition as well as the Work Environment Council-run Healthy Schools Now (except APN)and Jersey Renews coalitions. Working Families, Anti-Poverty Network, NJ Work Environment Council and NJ Policy Perspective are all directly funded by the NJEA.
Don’t be fooled New Jersey. For the Many NJ is the same old cast of characters that we have seen so many times before. It is not a grassroots operation but merely a collection of public-sector-union special interests and their fellow travelers, whom they fund and otherwise support.