Chris Christie in Hot Water Over ‘Punching Unions’ Comment


The leader of New Jersey’s largest teachers union has called for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s resignation after he stated that the union’s national allies needed to be punched in the face.

Advance Media’s Matt Arco reports that Wendell Steinhauer, the New Jersey Education Association’s president, said Christie should resign over his statement that teachers unions were putting the interests of adults ahead of students.

“Chris Christie’s instinct is always to threaten, bully and intimidate instead of build consensus and show true leadership,” Steinhauer said.

Steinhauer added that this is not new, and the state’s voters have rejected his immaturity and inappropriateness along with his failed policies and lack of leadership. Steinhauer continued that it is clear that the rest of the country feels the same way.

Christie’s interview on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper showed that the governor continues to feel that teachers unions are a destructive influence on public education.

“They’re not for education for our children,” Christie told Tapper. “They’re for greater membership, greater benefits, greater pay for their members. And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I have been saying that since 2009. I have got the scars to show it. But I’m never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.”

When a statement by Tapper included the phrase “punch in the face”, Christie suggested that the national teachers unions deserved to be “punched in the face.”  Tapper noted to the governor that during his first term, Christie said he had two ways of dealing with bullies, which were sidling up to them or punching them in the face. When he asked Christie who deserved a punch in the face, Christie answered: “Oh, the national teachers union,” according to David Cohen of Politico.

Christie was also bothered that the national teachers union had endorsed Hillary Clinton for President 16 or 17 months before the 2016 election. Some other members and union leaders have echoed Christie, saying the union should not have jumped ahead of the AFL-CIO timeline, which happened to be at the same time that Sen. Bernie Sanders began his rapid rise among Democratic voters.

The funding of teachers’ pensions has been a pressing issue for New Jersey. Christie pledged to fix the pension system, but he did not fulfill his promise when he later declined to make the state’s full contribution. After that, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the whole plan had been unconstitutional and efforts to come up with a solution since then have come to a halt.

The governor was also outspoken with teacher Melissa Tomlinson in November of 2013 during a campaign appearance. Tomlinson challenged Christie on the idea that the state’s schools were failing. Christy screamed at her: “I am tired of you people. What do you want?”

Marisa Schultz, reporting for the New York Post, says the governor has emphasized during his campaign stops that he is for expanding school choice in New Jersey and is for lessening the influence of teachers unions. The American Federation of Teachers Union tweeted a response to Christie on Twitter:

“Chris Christie thinks we deserve a punch in the face. This culture of violence towards teachers is out of control.”