Ad fuels battle between teachers union, N.J. powerbroker

While public employees rally in Trenton, a high-profile battle has erupted between a South Jersey power broker and the teachers union. The workers are protesting a deal between Gov, Chris Christie and Democratic lawmakers to require state workers to pay more for health insurance and pensions.

The New Jersey Education Association launched an ad campaign Wednesday attacking Senate President Steve Sweeney and George Norcross, the chairman of Cooper University Hospital.

“Sen. Steve Sweeney is doing the bidding of New Jersey’s most powerful political boss, insurance broker George Norcross who makes huge profits selling health insurance to New Jersey school districts,” claims the ad.

The teachers oppose legislation that would raise their out-of-pocket costs, while benefiting brokerage firms such as Norcross’ insurance company.

But Norcross says his company provides insurance nationwide, and would not benefit significantly. Norcross says the union has launched a smear campaign against him for his aggressive support of charter schools.

The unions “are populated undoubtedly by terrific teachers and staff. But the union leadership, which seems to have a cartel-like hold over their own membership, forbids any kind of reforms to take place,” Norcross said.

Norcross likened the union leaders to children, acting out against parental discipline.

A spokesman for the NJEA says the union is upset about rising premiums for teachers, not charter schools.

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