Governor Jon Corzine upped the ante in the state's standoff with unions over forced furloughs.
Corzine said Friday that 9,000 state workers could be laid off if he can't move ahead with his budget plan to force workers to take unpaid leave. That's 2,000 more jobs in jeopardy than the 7,000 he's been projecting.
To state workers unwilling to budge on this pocket issue, Corzine keeps saying it's the best-case scenario.
"My own argument to those folks is that we would be a lot better off taking a day off a month than we would be pushing back and having layoffs," Corzine said in a radio interview on WOR according to the Star-Ledger. "I would like not to have a seven, eight, maybe as many as 9,000 people laid off, which will increase our unemployment rate almost a full point."
"He shouldn't be using the backs of state workers to budget the economy," Regina Jackson of CWA Local 1033 told WCBS-TV.
Last month, New Jersey's Civil Service Commission declared the state's economy in "imminent peril." That essentially gave government leaders at the state, county and federal levels the ability to temporarily lay off workers.
Union leaders rallied and went to court Thursday to try and convince three appellate judges to put a stop to any furloughs. They say the state's not broke enough to put such a plan into place and the government may not even have the authority to force workers to take time off without pay.
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"Prices are going up for everything. I mean we're feeling the crunch just like everybody else," said Joann Marshall of the New Jersey State Police.
The court listened to both sides in the standoff, then recessed and let everyone go home without any ruling or indication of when they might have something to say.
Corzine wants workers to take two days off without pay this spring and 12 more in the next fiscal year, which starts in July. He always wants state workers to fore-go their 3.5-percent raises that are supposed to kick in on July 1.