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                Latest News on the Closing of The Juvenile Detention Center inParamas June 14, 2011.

 
 
 
               Pictures of The New  JDC Center   6/20/2011 

   


Brothers and Sisters,

The Union is in the midst of a serious situation. The County of Bergen intends on closing the Juvenile Detention Center in Paramus, NJ and laying off our Blue Collar staff employed at the Paramus building despite the fact that the County is building a new Juvenile Detention Center in Teterboro, which should be ready to open in early 2012. The staff in question could be layed off for 9 months or more depending on when the new facility is ready to open. This will seriously affect their wages, health benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment USWU Local 655 has bargained for over the last 8 years as well as benefits enjoyed prior. Below, please watch the videos of President Ken Russell speaking to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders on this issue, as well as the Juvenile Detention employees, and the response of Freeholder McPherson on this very important issue. In these hard times, it is very important we all stand together as a Union and support our fellow Union co-workers in need of our help. Please click on the links below to watch the videos, and then scroll down to see letters the Union has written on this issue and informational fliers to our members.  
 

Despite our protests, the Juvenile Detention Center in Paramus will be closing and some current employees will be laid off pending the opening of the new JDC in Teterboro. However, it is not all bad news. The Union successfully negotiated an agreement with the County to ensure that when the employees return from lay off to the new building when it is finished in Teterboro, they will receive the wages and benefits they were at prior to the lay off. We are also currently in active discussions with the County on trying to get the laid off employees Health Insurance assistance during their laid off months.
 
The Union put in an OPRA request to see the current building plan, and several other pertinent documents such as the County’s agreement with Union County to house the current Juveniles, and their request to the Juvenile Justice Commission to close the building. Ken Russell, President, and I reviewed all of the documentation. After seeing the building plans, I immediately went over to the site of the new JDC at 200 North Street in Teterboro NJ. You will see from the pictures I took of the site below, construction is well under way.  
 
Unfortunately, the JDC in Paramus is an old building plagued with problems. So much so, the Juvenile Justice Commission put a restriction on the County as to how many Juveniles they could house there as a result. According to the County, the cost of keeping the old building going and continuing to employ the employees pending the completion of the new building would not only be expensive, but could also lead to new problems if something should go wrong, such as a health and safety issue in the building which could be detrimental to the Juveniles as well as the staff.
 
With all of this said, it saddens us to see them go, even though it will be temporary. It is my understanding the Juveniles will be moved from the facility this Friday, June 17, 2011, and the affected employees’ last day of work will be Sunday, June 19, 2011.
 
We are taking on the responsibility of keeping on top of the construction of the new facility. We will need to stop over to the site often, take pictures of the progress, and make sure work is being performed there so that the building can be completed as soon as possible.
 
Please take a look at the pictures below. I took the pictures early in the morning of Monday, June 6, 2011.
 
We thank you all for your help and support in this matter, and we look forward to seeing our brother and sister Union members return to work when the new building is completed.
 
In Solidarity,

James Bush 
USWU Representative  


 

   
 
 
April 29, 2011
 
 
 
 
Kenneth Connolly
Director New Jersey Civil Service Commission
Division of Local Human Resource Management
PO Box 313 Trenton, NJ 08625

Dear Mr. Connolly:

I am a Union Representative representing Bergen County Blue Collar employees on behalf of the United Service Workers Union Local 655 ("Union").

You recently received a letter from the County of Bergen dated April 25, 2011 requesting a layoff of Juvenile Detention Officers and other employees currently employed at the Bergen County Juvenile Detention Center located in Paramus, NJ.

We respectfully request that you and/or the Civil Service Commission do not approve this requested layoff.

The Union has been party to discussions over the last few years regarding the building of a new Juvenile Detention Center in Teterboro, NJ and closing the Paramus, NJ location. There is currently a building being built in Teterboro that should be ready to occupy either this year or early next year. We were advised by the previous County Administration and the current County Administration, that there would be no transition issues, and the employees would simply move from the Paramus building to the Teterboro building when it was ready…no layoff planned or intended.

Now, we receive a copy of the April 25, 2011 letter sent to you by Ralph W. Kornfeld, Director of Personnel, claiming the County is closing the Paramus facility and wishes to layoff the employees indefinitely due to such closing. This is simply not factual. The County has every intention of staying in the Juvenile Detention business and are building a new building which will soon be ready for occupation by Juveniles and staff in the very near future.

When the Union was copied on the April 25, 2011 layoff request letter, we asked many questions of the Administration such as, "Why does the County feel it is necessary to close the current building and layoff employees before the new building is ready? What happened to the original plan of a seamless transition of the employees from Building A to Building B? What will happen to the Juveniles currently housed in the Paramus building? Where will they go? What will happen to the employees’ wages, benefits, and pensions should they be layed off this way?"

To our astonishment, the County, should they get approval from your office and the Civil Service Commission to layoff these employees, feels they will be "rehiring" them at the new facility, meaning and I cite one of their answers, "Employees who return to the same Employer and/or job will not necessarily receive the same rate of payment when and if they return. "

Mr. Connolly, the simple transfer of employees from one building to another is not a "layoff" as the County is falsely claiming and requesting it to be. If any of this falls under the umbrella of "layoff" at all, it would certainly be a "temporary layoff". However, let’s call this what it is, a guise to use the Civil Service Commission to unjustly layoff 13 or more employees, thus putting them and the Juveniles they care for through untold hardships for the months to come while they await the opening of the new building. Then, when the new building is ready, the County if they so choose, may re-hire the employees as if they are new hires at the new facility, thus stripping them of wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment that the affected employees have worked for and earned through collective bargaining over the last several years to decades.

It is also worthy of mention that the closing of building A pending the occupation of building B poses a number of legal issues regarding the Juvenile clientele currently housed by the County. It is our understanding that the County does not yet even have approval of the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission to temporarily move the Juveniles to another County in this manner.

With all of the aforementioned to consider, we once again respectfully request and outright plead with you and the Civil Service Commission to not be fooled by the County’s actions in this matter and deny the County’s request to layoff the Juvenile Detention Center employees.

Should you have any questions of me, kindly contact me at the enclosed number.

Respectfully,

James Bush

USWU Representative

 c: Kevin E. Boyle, Jr.; Jim Gangale; Local 655; Local 755; Kathe Donovan; Ed Trawinski; Ralph Kornfeld

 




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