"Union Memo Hints At Gov.'s Death
Teachers Union's Memo The Latest Salvo In War Of Words With Gov. Christie
HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBS) NJ Governor Chris Christie delivers the state budget address on March 16, 2010. CBS (photo)
"New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn't laughing about a teachers union's memo that hints of his death.
The memo is the latest salvo in a war of words between Christie and the union over wage and benefits concessions.
The Record of Bergen County obtained the Bergen County Education Association memo that includes a closing prayer:
"Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."
Association president Joe Coppola says the "prayer" was a joke and was never meant to be made public.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says there's nothing professional about the group.
The New Jersey Education Administration also spoke out against the memo.
NJEA President Barbara Keshishian issued the following statement this morning:
"NJEA condemns the inappropriate 'prayer' contained in a letter sent by the NJEA Bergen County regional offices and our Bergen County affiliate. Language such as that has no place in civil discourse. It was intended as humor, but it is not funny. Our ongoing discussion with Gov. Christie is centered on serious issues of significant importance to the state, and that must be the focus of all our conversation. We deeply regret that the 'prayer' reference was included in the letter, and we apologize to Gov. Christie for both the content of the 'prayer' and the lack of respect it demonstrated.
"I will be reaching out to Gov. Christie's office to apologize personally on behalf of all NJEA members."
Meanwhile, Drewniak says the governor is also considering reopening union contracts to try to get salary concessions at the institutes of higher learning.
Unionized employees at the schools deferred a 3.5 percent increase last year when former Gov. Jon Corzine reopened their contracts.
College and university officials are considering cuts to staff and programs to offset a $173 million cut to higher education in Christie's proposed budget.
On Tuesday, Christie extended a deadline for school districts to receive additional state aide in exchange for teachers agreeing to wage freezes."