Funding the Pension


Dear Member,

It’s time to make sure that every NJEA member understands where we stand on the issue of funding your pensions.

First of all, let me say this: Full funding of the current pension system is NJEA’s number one priority.

Back in 2011, a new law known as Chapter 78 increased employee contributions to the pension system and reduced benefits, but it also created a contractual right to the state’s share of the pension funding. By enacting that law, the governor and the Legislature made a promise that they would not repeat the sins of the past and committed themselves to follow a payment schedule that would ensure full funding of the pension systems over the course of seven years.

That promise has been broken and our pension system is in jeopardy. It is our job—all 200,000 of us—to demand that our elected officials keep the promise by fully funding the pension system so that our members will receive the benefits they were promised and that they have earned.

You may have heard about NJEA’s discussions with the Governor’s pension commission. You may also have heard the Governor say that there was a “deal” with NJEA. Let’s put all that to rest. Yes, we had discussions. We had discussions because the plan, without appropriate funding, is in danger of collapsing. We had those discussions because it is our obligation to explore every avenue of stabilizing pensions before the plans run out of money. But there is no “deal” between NJEA and the governor on pensions.

Right now, what we have is a law obligating the state to pay its share, several lawsuits we filed related to the failure of the state to follow the law, and a judge’s ruling (under appeal by Gov. Christie) that directs the state to pay. We also know that the governor has not included the full pension payment in the budget for next year. On top of the legal battles, that’s our next fight – full funding in the next state budget.

Over the past month, we have heard from leaders and members around the state who are ready to hold the governor and the Legislature accountable for their promises. It’s time to demonstrate what the power of 200,000 members can do.

So, here’s what you can do, as one of those 200,000 members:

  • Read the new Q and A, Funding the Pension System.”
  • Become a Pension Activist to help educate and mobilize our 200,000 members. Sign up
  • Keep yourself informed about the issue and learn about actions you can take by texting“PENSION” to 738674 and regularly checking
  • Contact your legislators and remind them of their obligation under Ch. 78 to fund our pensions.
  • Encourage your 200,000 union colleagues to take these same steps.

The fight to fund our pensions is going to be a tough one, and it will require all of us working together. The entire NJEA leadership and staff look forward to working with you in this fight.

Thank you.


Wendell Steinhauer 
NJEA President