The Murphy administration projects that the cost of the recent contract settlement with the Communications Workers of America’s state workers will be around $149 million.

On Wednesday, Murphy told reporters in Trenton that he didn’t know an exact number for the program’s cost, and he reiterated Thursday in Edison that the final totals aren’t yet available.

He said the costs are fully covered in the adjusted 2018 and proposed 2019 state budgets.

“We take these very seriously. We want to make sure working folks and their families are treated fairly again in this state, that this is a state where folks say, ‘You know what, this is a fair place to work and to do business,’” Murphy said.

“But we also represent on our side of the aisle. We want to make sure that we enter into arrangements, when we shake hands, it’s something we feel that we can live with. It’s within us. It’s within our means. And we’re committed to both of those objectives, and they’re not at odds with each other.”

The last contract expired in June 2015. The Murphy administration said $78 million of the cost – approximately 52 percent – is related to Gov. Chris Christie’s administration suspending longevity increases and clothing allowances for more than two and a half years.

“More than half of that was making up for what my predecessor didn’t do,” Murphy said. “Even in prior administrations, on both sides of the aisle, even when there wasn’t a contract, the steps were paid, even though there wasn’t a contract. He neither negotiated a contract nor paid the steps.”

By year, the estimated cost of the contract is $24 million for fiscal 2016, $34.7 million for fiscal 2017, $41.1 million for fiscal 2018 and $48.8 million projected for fiscal 2019. That brings the total cost to $148.9 million.

Around 75 percent of state workers are represented by labor unions. Out of those unionized workers, the CWA represents close to 60 percent.

The next biggest union, AFSCME, represents about 12 percent of unionized state workers. More than 20 percent of them are in a variety of law enforcement and probation officers unions.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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