New Jersey's Next Union Fight: Clothing Allowances
State spends $3.1B on outfits for white-collar workers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 14, 2011 4:30 PM CDT
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answers a question Wednesday in Trenton, N.J.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

(Newser) – New Jersey is dropping $3.1 million on clothing for state workers who don’t need special outfits on the job, the state comptroller says. Mail clerks and teaching assistants are among the 4,500 white-collar employees getting up to $700 as a clothing allowance, the Wall Street Journal reports. “It's just unmoored from what most folks would understand as the purpose,” says comptroller Matt Baker.

But union leaders hold that workers like mail clerks, who spend time in filthy warehouses, need cash for clothes. “You have to wash the clothes 10, 15 times, and you wear them out. It's a tremendous expense.” What’s more, unions say, Baker discussed the matter only with management, not the workers themselves. The news comes as Gov. Chris Christie negotiates new contracts with unions; he cites it as an example of an unnecessary benefit. “You should see all the crap they've got in” the contracts, he says. “It’s unbelievable.”