New Jersey state employees won’t be given the day after the Thanksgiving holiday as excused time off, Governor Chris Christie said, breaking with tradition.
Workers can only get a four-day weekend starting tomorrow if they use one of their days off following the holiday, Christie, 49, said yesterday. Governors since the 1960s have signed executive orders letting employees skip coming in the day after Thanksgiving each year.
“It’s time to get to work,” Christie said during his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio call-in show on WKXW-FM in Ewing. “People should have access to their state government.”
Christie tried to end the practice last year, yet was overruled by the Public Employment Relations Commission in Trenton. The panel said an agreement between Jon Corzine, the governor’s predecessor in the capitol, and state unions guaranteed workers the extra day off, said Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesman. That agreement expired in January.
“No one was expecting the governor to give us the day,” said Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the Communications Workers of America, New Jersey’s largest public-workers union. “It’s not a big deal.”
The union has told its more than 40,000 members who want the time away from work to use a vacation day, Rosenstein said.
The governor said he plans to be on the job Nov. 25, after spending Thanksgiving day at his Mendham home with his family.
While not an official holiday, New Jersey governors have routinely issued executive orders giving state workers a paid day off following Thanksgiving since 1962.
Christie has battled with unions over pensions, teacher tenure and health insurance costs since taking office in January 2010. The governor signed a law in June that raised the retirement age for state workers and increased their contributions to the plans.